One of the main source of conflicts between parents and teenagers these days is the excessive use of cellphone. And this conflict often leads to other issues such as: high data plan bill, cyberbullying and sexting, or lack of communication with family members.
This WAS (yes…used to be) very true in our household with a 15 year old teenager.
There were constant battles over:
- convincing my stepson to put his phone aside during homework time
- making sure the phone is charged in OUR room before bedtime
- discussing issues with friends that arise on social media
Does this sound familiar to any of you?
At one point, I was fed up with the constant power struggle over technology. I needed some kind of parent control app that enables me to guide my teenager to more responsible technology use. I need an app that helps HIM take a break from device use so he can explore other activity options during his downtime. This app would ideally involve controlling his phone remotely without physically taking it away. Perhaps, it’d involve locking his phone during bedtime or homework time? Does such an app exist!?
After looking into several options, I decided to try out “OurPact” From the start, I knew I needed the Premium version where I have access to features that were more specific.
In a nutshell, Ourpact manages devices in three ways:
I use “Schedule” to check off times during the day when certain apps should be allowed or blocked. For instance, during homework hours, only educational tools or apps such as Calculator, Google Classroom, Quizlet, Calendar are activated. During bedtime, only Spotify and Alarm are on.
I know my stepson is at an age when he should really be self-regulating rather than relying on an app to block distractions for him, but this is another discussion worth a post of its own. Long story short, there are some kids who are ready to self-regulate, and there are others who need a little bit more help to get ‘self-regulation’ into a habit.
The “Schedule” function on OurPact has really helped our family because I no longer need to pry the phone away during homework time, or lock up the phone in our room at 11:30pm sharp (bedtime). It’s a game changer because I can now go to bed early with the comfort of knowing OurPact will shut off the apps after I fall asleep.
“Grant” is another handy function. I use it when, for example, my stepson is scheduled to have 3 hour study time during exams period (when all social media apps are shut off), but he comes to me and wants a 15 minute break. With the “Grant” function, I could allowa 15 min – 8 hours break without affecting his scheduled apps time.
“Block” works in a similar way as “Grant”. If my stepson is scheduled to have his freeapps time, but he has forgotten to do his mountain of
laundry, I can quickly block his apps for a specific time frame without affecting his daily scheduled technology time.
One other extremely function on OurPact for my younger stepsons is…
This “Screentime allowance” function works very well with my younger stepsons (twin boys) who are in 6th grade. Setting a daily technology limit is a great way to teach time management. Each day, I allot 3 hours of “iPad time” to them, and it’s up to them how they want to budget their time. To start the timer, they just need to press PLAY on the OurPact Junior app, and if they want to save the remaining minutes for later, they press “PAUSE.” Once the 3 hour allowance is used up, their apps will once again be blocked.
What’s also great is that each day can have its own allowance. For example, I can give them a 5 hour allowance on weekends.
The “Allowance” function has been extremely useful because I no longer need to set the timer on my own watch, and supervise them during their free time. The app does the work for me counting how much time they have spent on their device, and blocking the apps when their allowance time expires.
Finally, what’s great about the functions on OurPact is that the setting of each function can be different for each child. I have three boys at home, and their schedule, and allowance are all tailored to their routines and needs (OurPact can manage up to 20 devices!)
You can read more about OurPact on their website here. The visuals and step-by-step instructions and online tutorials are very clear, and the online support is quick to reply and offer assistance. I am aware that there are other similar apps out there, but it did take some time to figure OurPact, and try out all the functions for my three stepkids. I decided to stick with OurPact. It’s been 4 months since I started using it, and besides a few issues here and there (for instance, kids trying to unpair their devices from Ourpact), this parental control app has trained my boys toward more responsible iPad use.