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Summer Edition 2017

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REVIEW Gift tokens With screen time becoming a daily battleground, Susannah Warren introduces TimeTokens to help manage her children’s digital diet – with life-changing results It’s a beautiful day outside. The house is deliciously quiet. But where are the children? Daisy, seven, is watching mindless TV in the playroom, Wilfred, five, is in his bedroom, nose to tablet, immersed in the virtual world of Minecraft. I’m not sure exactly how long they’ve been gorging on these tech treats (parenting fail), but it’s almost certainly too long. It’s time for battle and the inevitable screen withdrawal process – aka, a total meltdown – to commence. Sound familiar? Well, if getting your kids to turn off a device feels more like making a drug addict go cold turkey, I have glad tidings for you in the form of TimeTokens. Designed by a mother with her seven-year-old son, it’s a simple, inexpensive system that empowers children aged between five and 10 to manage their own screen time via a pack of fun, tangible tokens and a magnetic LCD timer. Worn down by my daily digital battles, I decided to give it a whirl. As soon as the handy orange wallets dropped through the letterbox, they couldn’t wait to get started. After agreeing an allowance of five hours per week as a realistic starting point, they signed their personal Promise Contracts and stuck them to the fridge. Then, whenever they wanted some screen time, they handed over the relevant TimeTokens - they come in handy denominations of five, 10, 15, 30 and 60 minutes – and set the timer accordingly. Initially, I was rather skeptical of their ability to self-regulate, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Although they used up their five hours’ worth too quickly in week one, they went without until their wallet was replenished for the new week and became much more discerning about how they “spent” their TimeTokens thereafter. A good lesson of delayed gratification and time management learned! The timer turned out to be the real revelation, though. As soon as it started to beep, the kids immediately turned off whatever device they were on. Without argument. Hurrah! It turns out they loved being in charge and setting their own boundaries. We are now nearly a month into this healthier and more harmonious digital life and the novelty has yet to wear off. Now it’s just the grown-ups who need to sort their tech addictions out… £14.95 per pack. SUMMER 17 ★ 31


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