Disclosure: The reviewer was compensated for this post. However, all opinions are my own.
Can I have some more screen time?
I hate hearing that question. You know what else I hate? Watching my daughter bury her face in one of her devices for hours on end. With the single-minded intensity of a Chess grandmaster she can stare at a phone or tablet for hours on end, blocking out any attempt at communication or human interaction. I’m pretty sure that if our house caught fire when she was in “the zone” she would not notice. If nuclear war broke out, she might look up. If aliens landed outside on our lawn, she might blink.
Short of those events, she’s a zombie slave from planet Android. FYI, if anyone decides to use that as the title or plot of a movie I want full credit and revenue sharing. This is one of the reasons we hated using her other device (from a brand that shall remain nameless). We got it thinking it would be all “educational.” That quickly devolved to a palpable dread when she picked it up. Now there may have been some awesome parental control app for that device. I wouldn’t know, I could never find a good one.
So, when she graduated to having a phone (don’t judge, she’s not on Facebook or Twitter) I was delighted to find an app that let me help her exercise some restraint (in other words, I didn’t have to chase her down and physically rip it out of her hands to get her to put it down).
If it’s getting too late I can simply push a button and lock her out of her phone. It she’s spending too much time on her phone, I can simply push a button and lock her out of her phone. If she annoys me, I can simply push a button and lock her out of her phone. If she’s trying to escape from a pack of slow-moving zombies I can drive to her where she is and pick her up, and then lock her out of her phone. How can I do all this you might wonder?
The Family Link app from Google. This is the app I have been waiting for. Now I have an app that lets me set limits (and talk to her about those limits) without me having to watch the clock. This is the app that lets me know that she isn’t going to download apps meant for older kids or adults. This is the app that lets me set up a white-list of websites she is allows to go to (She’s 9. There are like three websites on the internet that are appropriate for her). This is the app that can let me know exactly where she is when she calls to tell me she’s on the run from an approaching zombie horde (the slow kind, not the fast kind).
The Family Link app from Google. It may not be the perfect silver bullet, but it is definitely a tool to help me and my family navigate this brave new digital world.