Here’s one way to get kids off the phones they won’t put down: hide them in a high-tech box.
TechDen, which is currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign, claims to ”help kids develop healthy screen habits,” by combining an app to manage your child’s screen time with a literal white box that stores and charges up to two phones or tablets. It can also recognize each device, and send parents notifications about which devices are charging and which are currently in use.
Parents can create designated “sessions” — routine windows of time where their kids can use their phone — and set up a maximum allowable screen time within each of these windows. For example, a session could be an hour before bedtime, and the maximum amount of screen time allowed could be 15 minutes. When the window opens, the charging box, known as The Den, will unlock to let the phone or tablet out.
While there’s no guarantee that children won’t rebel against having their devices locked away, the program is baked with some wiggle room meant to give kids some sense of choice. For example, a parent can designate the time limit and range of hours that screen time is allowed, but the kids can decide for themselves when they’d like to spend that time.
TechDen’s app will send a series of notifications to help children count down the amount of screen time that remains, and also notify parents if devices are returned on time. There’s a gamified feature that rewards kids for on-time returns back to the box, and allows them to check their progress within the app. Of course, all this doesn’t account for kids literally trying to break the box, but that’s obviously none of TechDen’s concern.
The TechDen appears to the company’s first product, and it is attempting to raise $50,000 by September 21st. (As of this writing, it’s more than halfway there.) The device is currently selling for $119, and it’s eventually supposed to retail for $199. TechDen says it’s aiming to get the product into backers’ mailboxes by the end of December, but as with all Kickstarter projects — particularly hardware from first-time companies — there’s no guarantee it’ll meet that timeline, so back at your own discretion.