Anyone who has a child and a tablet has probably put the two together and noticed the sheer joy of having a moments peace and quiet. Kids love the interactivity and parents enjoy a quiet life and hope that the kids are learning something from the experience. But how do you make sure that your child isn’t accidentally, or intentionally, installing other apps? How can you find out what they do? What happens when the sugar-crash-like tablet overdose kicks in and your child needs to be peeled away from it before they explode?
The answer people is Screen Time. It’s changed my children’s tablet usage and given me more control over their viewing habits and it can do the same for you.
Android tablets have a reasonable level of parental control. There’s no doubt that if you want superb inbuilt parental control then look to Apple. In recent years Google have given us the ability to define additional users in Android tablets. These users can have access to all, or just a few, apps on the device. Combine that a password prompt to install apps, and you get a reasonable level of control with regards to what your child can do.
The real issue is that what my kids do on their tablets is really just one part of the issue. How long they spend on it is equally as important and it’s the one issue that causes real arguments. Anyone who has tried to tear a tablet away from a child who’s spent too much on it will know that it’s not something you do without re-enforcements at hand.
What we need is a way that we can lock down a tablet, get an understanding as to what the child is doing, and be able to limit the amount of time that a child can spend on that tablet.
This is exactly where Screen Time comes in. Screen Time not only gives you the ability to block or allow apps but you can also control the amount of time your kids can use their devices each day, exclude usage during certain periods, ‘pause’ their device to prevent any usage (I favour this during homework and dinner time personally), and a loads of other features.
You simply install the main app on your kids device. This installs itself as a device administrator, meaning it gets virtually complete control of the device without the need for any complicated rooting or messing about. You then install the remote control app on your own phone and start configuring the times and usage policies. Devices are paired based on your email address and two parents can manage up to 6 devices at once.
But what about the kids?
Let’s face it, the kids aren’t going to like it. Going from an all you can eat Netflix based buffet to a locked down, time limited, Netflix-free salad of apps isn’t going to go down well whoever you are. That being said, I’m surprised – and more than a bit proud – that my daughter has taken to the adjustment so well. She’s learned how to tick off her daily tasks in the app and send them to me for approval so that she can earn more watching time. She got used to factoring in how much time she has left to use her tablet and putting it to onside until she really needs it. Considering the cost of the app, and the benefits it’s brought, I think it’s staggeringly good value.
The app costs £2.99 per month but you can get this down to £30 a year if you pay for a year upfront. Simply put, if you have kids with devices get this app now. Get it. Now.