Mike's Story – Putting the device down and getting active

by Screen Time Team on 15/09/2016

His boy was playing Minecraft 24/7 so Mike created a script on the Ubuntu computer to shut it off at certain times. Eventually his son wanted a Windows computer to play more games and then his own smart phone.  This was when Mike realised that he needed something to help him manage his son’s screen time.

I heard about a child that played Minecraft so much the parents had to send them to boarding school where no electronics were allowed at all. I wanted to stop it before it got to that stage!

Laying the groundwork

Mike found Screen Time quickly through Google and Play Store searches and signed up for the free trial.  The results were so fast and effective that 11 days into the free trial, he subscribed for a year.
Prior to installation, Mike and his wife undertook some ground work. They talked with their boy to go through why they were installing it, what it would do, what the rules were and discussed them as a family.
They all agreed on the rules and compromised where necessary, for example, Whatsapp was to have less restrictions so he could chat with his friends. This social interaction was less worrying to Mike and his wife than hours spent on his own playing Minecraft.
House Teeter Totter
During the discussion other important points came up: what were the rules outside of Screen Time? What apps are needed for school? Should these rules apply to parents as well as kids?

I’m trying to lead by example. It’s confusing to tell your kids “don’t play with your phone during dinner” when you’re doing it.

The school week in Israel runs from Sunday to Friday and on Tuesday’s school finishes early to allow kids to take part in activities like sport, music and arts & crafts. As someone that was once heavily involved in sport (American Football), it’s important to Mike that his kids have real world experiences and take advantage of activities that are open to them outside of lessons.

Change doesn’t happen overnight

Change didn’t happen over night, Screen Time was installed and for the first few days there wasn’t much difference in his boy’s habits. After about a week though, Mike started to see that he was spending less time on his device and more on other things. Admittedly some of that time was now spent on the Nintendo Wii, but at least that was playing with his friends and not on his own.
Also more time was spent with the family, he was coming down from his room more and more, was on time for dinner and was interacting more with his parents and 6 year old brother.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though, Mike had a warning from Screen Time letting him know that his son tried to uninstall it. Once his son realised that Screen Time would block his phone entirely if he tried to uninstall, it never happened again.

The support has been great, every time I’ve messaged them they’ve been very informative and responsive.

A few weeks into using Screen Time, Mike’s son came to him and asked for a workout schedule with questions about the best way to do exercises like bicep curls, squats, etc. This show of interest was refreshing to Mike.
Mike hasn’t rested on his laurels, even though his son has shown interest in sport and is doing more real world activities, Mike believes this is the best time to strike! So he’s reduced his son’s Daily Limit even more, he gets less time on his device now and the best thing he’s hardly noticed.
Since Screen Time’s been installed the changes have been dramatic, Mike’s boy is spending more time with the family and getting involved in other activities. In his words “I’ve got my boy back”

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