It has become the all too familiar battle that parents ultimately face… screen time. A relentless stream of new and dangerous apps, texting after bedtime, fake Instagram accounts, cyberbullying, etc. These all have become items on an endless list that spells worry for parents. The constant monitoring, setting of time limits, bargaining and daily struggle to deal with permeating technology in our lives can make one a bit weary and nostalgic for the days of yesteryear. As the first group of parents raising a generation of digital kids, we find ourselves in uncharted territory with insufficient resources and an online reality with limited, if any, restrictions.
Our children and teens are spending more than 7 hours a day on screens, and 75% of our children are sleeping with a device in their bedroom. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics adapted its recommendations on digital usage and stated that there was “no set guideline” on screen time for the over age 6 category (wait, what?). In the face of conflicting information and technology encroaching more and more on family time, as well as the need to manage technology remotely, it begs the question: how do we navigate these troubling waters?
A little over a year ago, we found ourselves in a state of mental exhaustion from supervising 3 kids and all their assorted “devices”. We began to look for an easy solution to manage the digital quagmire that had invaded our home. After exploring and trialing several different apps and systems, we found a seamless fit (read: game changer!) for our family. It’s an app called OurPact. We haven’t stopped recommending it to our fellow digitally-fatigued friends and family. And receive nothing from the company; we believe it’s just THAT good!
OurPact hits the perfect notes for us on ease of use, screen time management, app supervision, and management of multiple devices. There are free and premium versions, as well as capabilities for Apple and Android devices. And we choose to pay the nominal monthly fee for the premium version. It is worth all the extras that come with it, particularly for parents of tweens and teens. One of my very favorite things is that once the setup is done, there’s not much to do unless you want to adjust the controls!
Here’s how we use it:
- Schedule time limits for internet and app use (screen time allowance)
- Teach responsibility with technology use (manage their allotted time)
- Block internet and apps with one touch, and monitoring new app downloads
- Allow website and app access, if we feel a child needs or has earned more time
- Block specific apps (e.g., SnapChat, Instagram, YouTube, Safari, etc.)
- Schedule devices to be off during mealtimes, homework time, and bedtime
- Family locator
There are many parental control apps available on the market to quiet the screen time battle in your home. And this one has been a lifeboat for us in the sea of technology that we maneuver daily. Drop a comment below to let us know what apps have helped you to be a smart digital parent!