New Year’s resolutions and how to keep them, using the Screen Time app

by Anna Hughes on January 6, 2017

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Happy New year from Screen Time! (We’re not sure when you’re supposed to stop saying that either).

At Screen Time HQ, we’ve been discussing our New Year’s resolutions. The standard ones have inevitably been thrown in (join a gym, eat more healthily, slightly reduce Prosecco consumption), as well as a couple of less traditional ones involving underpants (see graph for details).

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But how likely is it that we will all stick to our resolutions?

A classic one for many is of course to spend more quality time with the family. One rather large obstacle that can get in the way of this great intention however, is the kids smartphone or tablet.

If it’s a choice between posting selfies on Snapchat/playing Minecraft, or, say, a family bike ride, chances are you’ll not be getting the bikes out of the garage without a fight.

Luckily, as all Screen Time users know, our app can make this New Year’s resolution a lot more achievable and a lot less painful.

 

“It takes the fight out of managing screen time”  

Aleah LaFrancis. Screen Time user

 

Simply pause their device and you are free to cycle off into the sunset with your offspring in tow.

Or if the kids need a bit of extra convincing, you could try introducing some ‘family’ related tasks that will earn them extra time on their device. For example, a family hike could earn child half an hour bonus time on their tablet. Or a family game of cards could earn them an extra 20 minutes on their smartphone. Or whatever you decide. You control everything – which is the beauty of the app.

Similarly, if 2017 for you means getting fit or simply allowing yourself some more ‘you’ time, send your loved ones a Play. They get some extra time online and you get a six pack. Everyone’s happy.

We’d love to hear about your New Year’s resolutions. Please share in the comments below 🙂

 

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How to get your kids to venture outdoors and leave their device at home

by Anna Hughes on December 22, 2016

A person playing in the snow with their dog

Most parents would agree that Cabin Fever, particularly in a child’s case, is a very real thing. And it isn’t pretty. Especially if the main event of the day involves a screen, sucking them into a digital bubble that’s difficult to burst without a fight.

With so many devices in the average home now, it’s easier than ever to lose our kids when they’re sat right in front of us.

As most of our subscribers will tell you, our Screen Time app makes the process of separating child from device, easier. But once that bubble is popped and it’s freezing outside, it’s not always just the kids who need convincing that leaving the house is a good idea. We live in the UK – we hear you!

But hear this.

Apart from the fact that meltdowns are less likely once fresh air hits your offspring, there are a whole bunch of health benefits, both mental and physical, to be gained too.

Brave the cold and you lower their risk of obesity, cancer, nearsightedness and depression and increase their attention spans, social skills, their chance of getting strong bones and higher grades at school.   

All pretty good reasons, we think. But how long do we pause our kids devices for, for the purposes of outdoor family frolicking? Guidelines say we should aim for at least an hour a day.

Or simply refer to the child’s built-in ‘Fresh Air’ guage that sits either side of the nose behind the cheeks. When sufficiently exercised, the cheeks will become rosy. And what’s nicer than seeing your children with happy, rosy cheeked faces?*

If you need some inspiration, here’s a handy list of things you can do in the outside world during the holidays. We’d love to hear other ideas. Feel free to share them with us as well as any photos you have of you and your family out embracing the cold this Christmas. Just use #rosycheekchallenge on Instagram or Facebook or tell us about them in the comments below 🙂

Wheel them Out

Is anyone getting new wheels this Christmas? Weather permitting, go and discover bike tracks and/or skate parks near you. Or if your local area is lacking such a place, check out http://tonyhawkfoundation.org for guidance on how one could be built near you (but not before your family outdoor time!)

Use the dog as an excuse

Make walking the dog into something more adventurous. Go that bit further than normal. Get her a new ball to play with that you can throw and encourage the kids to reach it first. 

Get with the Hugge programme

Loving the latest craze for Hugge style coziness? Then get some hot chocolate in a thermos flask, wrap everyone up and venture out on a nature trail (a couple of spiders under a magnifying glass should do it). The best part is, your house is never cosier than when back from a chilly stroll. If you want to go the distance with the Hugge theme, get a fire going (carefully does it) and toast some marshmallows too. 

Look no further than your backyard

If venturing out too far is an issue, simply head out into the backyard and eat a picnic, kick a ball, play catch, shoot some hoops. Maybe you could add some bonus time to their device for every point scored. 

Christmas Treasure Hunt

Why should the Easter bunny have all the fun? Get creative and put together a festive outdoor treasure hunt for the kids.  Chocolate coins make for decent treasure. Or maybe some bonus time on their device in the form of a golden ticket 😉

*Please be aware that children do NOT in fact have ‘Fresh Air’ gauges behind their cheeks. We made that up. This information is a silly attempt at humor made by Screen Time Labs. We promise we will do it again :)

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10 ways to not lose your kids this Christmas

by Anna Hughes on December 1, 2016

 

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Smartphones and tablets are set to be a popular present for kids this Christmas. We already have an app to help prevent us from losing ours to their devices. Here are ten ways to not lose them at the shops.

With the Christmas festivities fast approaching, parents will be all consumed by the daunting task of making sure everyone is happy on the big day. Children, big and small, are at bursting point as they excitedly ponder what has been left for them under the tree. The challenge for parents at this time of year (as if there weren’t enough already), is to orchestrate the balance between what their kids want, and what their kids actually need.

In a recent survey, 20% of parents intend to buy their children a new device this Christmas. So tweens and teens across the country will soon be gleefully unwrapping smartphones and tablets.

And if they’re not careful, that’ll be the last they see of our beloved offspring as they disappear behind their screens. The Christmas sweater that was lovingly purchased by a relative remains wrapped and forgotten beneath the tree. The annual game of Charades is cancelled due to a shortage of contenders.

But fear not!

The Screen Time app can help parents manage the amount of time their kids spend on their devices, so you still get to enjoy those precious family moments.

One thing our app can’t do however is prevent our kids from getting lost in other ways. We’d love to introduce a button for this but until we do, here are a few useful pointers to help you hang onto your kids when out doing your Christmas shopping:

high-vis-vest

1. Write your phone number on your child’s arm. Even if they have memorised it with impressive accuracy, they might not remember it at times of need.

 2. Take a picture of all offspring before you leave the house. Handy for descriptive purposes in the event of misplacing your child. Memory can be uncooperative during such times.

 3. Agree on a meeting place for everyone to wait at if lost.

 4. Point out who it’s okay to go to for help. For example a police officer, a member of staff, a mom with her children.

 5. Dress your child in bright clothes so you can spot them from a distance.

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And if you want to go that extra mile:

 6. Give your child several helium balloons to hold. Ideally so they float above the crowd for easy identification.

 7. Dress all children in high vis vests. (Additional hat with large flashing light attachment optional).

8. Do the Conga at all times, ensuring all family members participate for the duration of your public outing.

9. Use the power of incentivisation to keep your children close. This can be achieved by attaching a smartphone to your belt or alternatively, a fishing rod. See illustration above for guidance.

10. Leave the kids at home. They’d probably prefer it there anyway. Which also allows for ample shopping time on your own terms 🙂

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Three easy Thanksgiving activities to lure your kids away from their devices

by Anna Hughes on November 24, 2016

 

 

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Thanksgiving, in an ideal world, is a valuable time to be with our families. To laugh, to embrace one another, to joyfully reminisce about the good old days. To make new memories and enjoy a day full of meaningful conversations with loved ones.

This scenario is of course completely fictional for most. Anyone with children who claims their Thanksgiving was in any way straightforward or dreamlike, is probably bending the truth quite significantly. Especially if they were the ones hosting the festivities.

There’s the late-night food prep, the cleaning and decorating, the mental preparation for pending potential or inevitable family dramas. Not to mention the daily challenges (to put it politely) set mostly by the smallest person/people who share your home.

It is definitely tempting to give the kids some bonus time on their tablet or phone just to keep them out of the way while we dress and stuff the turkey, set tables, quietly glug eggnog etc.

And that’s fine.

Or, rather than lose our children to their devices while we do all of the work, we could always find ways to get them involved with the preparations (bear with us here).

The tasks you set needn’t be anything complicated. Baking something simple or making table decorations for example not only gets them away from their screens, it will also get them using and developing their creative skills, math skills, science, reading, time telling…the list goes on.

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Who knows, you might even bond a bit too.

Then once your house is filled with the sweet smells of pumpkin pie and your table is scattered with lovingly crafted decorations, you could treat your offspring to some bonus time on their device as a ‘well done for being so helpful’ reward. Which also means more ‘you’ time later on. Everyone wins 😉

We’ve scoured the pages of Pinterest to find the best Thanksgiving recipes and crafts for you to try with your kids. Not only that, but we at Screen Time Labs have MADE each one to ensure they are as quick and as easy as promised (kids attention spans vs parents patience levels were taken very seriously during the testing period).

Evidence is posted below in our quick video tutorials, each lasting less than 60 seconds.

We’d love to see your creations. Feel free to share on here or on our Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter feeds using #kidsunplugged.

Successful AND unsuccessful attempts are all welcome! Good luck 🙂

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Turkey Cupcakes

Turkey Paper Bag Puppets

 

 

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Screen Time Labs wins SETsquared Bristol’s ‘Start-up of the month’ award

by Anna Hughes on October 18, 2016

Amidst the bonhomie of SETSquared’s summer ‘Beer’n’Pizza’ evening whilst cruising around Bristol’s Floating Harbour in glorious sunshine, we were delighted to be named ‘Start-up of the month’. The unexpected award comes at a time when we are busier than ever as the need of our parental control app increases particularly as kids go back to school and the inevitable build up to Christmas begins.

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Switch on, switch off and join in with the Backyard Olympics this summer  

by Anna Hughes on August 8, 2016

The Olympics are in full swing, and they offer a great opportunity to get kids inspired to explore sports of all kinds. With coverage online throughout the games, there’s a huge supply of content of sportsmen and women excelling in their fields and proving how exciting getting out and about can be.

We’ve got the perfect way to get your family involved with the Olympics, even if you’re a plane ride away from Rio. Our Backyard Olympics infographic has got everything you need to hold your very own games in your garden. Bring out the best in everyone in your family by holding a range of events using household items – from potatoes to paddling pools.

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Get to know the Screen Time team: hello Neil Prosser

by Anna Hughes on July 11, 2016

Life is busy for any tech startup team and we’re no exception. It’s no easy task developing an app for parents which stops family arguments over screen time around the globe! But we thought we should take some time out to help you get to know the friendly, talented folk behind Screen Time a little better. First up is one of our software engineers and newest member of the team. Over to you Neil…

Neil Prosser, software developer, Screen Time app

What did you do before Screen Time

Before joining Screen Time I spent over seven years with MixRadio, who were a music streaming company based in Bristol.

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