The Secret Tool Every Parent Should be Using
If you’re a parent, devices are probably two things to you…
Your best friend, and your worst enemy.
At the moments you need them (cutting your kids nails or when you need two minutes to get chores done), they’re great… But when you want them to be shut off (for homework time, or dinner), sh*t hits the fan.
I tried to take an ‘organic’ approach to limiting screen time: having conversations about the importance of limits, asking politely for screens to be set aside, enforcing ‘screen free zones’ in the house.
Truth is? None of it was effective. Not just because my kids weren’t listening, but because I would easily lose track of time, or didn’t have the energy to argue about five more minutes.
The thing is, the whole idea of ‘parental controls’ really rubs me the wrong way. (The phrase itself brings to mind overanxious helicopter parents.) Instead, I was hoping for something that would bridge the tech gap between me and my kids, and make sure that at the end of the day, my voice was heard when it mattered most.
Right when I was about to hit a wall, I heard of an amazing app that has completely changed my life; it’s called OurPact.
OurPact is different from other parental control apps. It instead positions itself as more of a ‘parental guidance tool’ aimed at helping kids develop healthy habits independently.
Here’s how it works.
Parents install and sign up for OurPact’s iOS app on their parent device, or sign up for an account at their website. (Psst… The app is completely free, at the time of publishing at least!)
Then, you pair up your children’s iOS OR Android devices to be managed – an intuitive process that you are led through, and takes no longer than a couple of minutes.
This is when the app takes a unique approach.
Instead of simply setting up limits, the app encourages you to sit down with your kids, sign a Family Screen Time Contract, and even let your kids set up the rules in the app that will restrict their own use. (This way, the limits aren’t being imposed on them, and your kids can expect them to kick in when they do.)
Parents can manage up to 10 individual child devices, each with separate rules and profiles. During blocks, all internet and apps disappear off of kids devices (on Android devices, they don’t disappear, but access is blocked completely), and reappear when block times end.
How does the app actually work, though?
Blocking is made possible through two main features: at-a-touch blocking/granting, or automated schedules…
With At-a-Touch Blocking, parents go into the OurPact app, and navigate to the child profile that they wish to manage. Then, you select ‘Manual Block, and the period of time you want to set a block for. This feature is a favorite for nipping ‘five minute’ arguments in the butt, and ensuring your kids don’t get distracted during meals or homework time.
Automated Schedules are perfect for hands-off management, and encouraging healthy device habits with minimal work. What you do is go into the parent app, and set up periods of time you want your children’s devices to automatically enter and exit a blocked state. This is great for bedtime, or school hours.
At-a-Touch Granting can also be used at any time to allow access on an as-needed basis over scheduled or manual blocks. (Think, if your kid miraculously finishes homework early!)
OurPact is nothing short of amazing, and should be in every parent’s back pocket. Since I introduced it to my family, screen time has been put firmly in its’ place… A place with no arguments, no grumpy kids, and no silent family meals.