Parent App of the Week: OurPact – Parental Control App for iPhones, iPads and iPods: Teaching Responsibility With Technology!
It’s one of the biggest challenges of parenting in this new technological era – how do we teach our children what they need to know about using their own mobile device responsibly, and how do we know they’re following our advice?
What It’s About
OurPact is a leading parental control app for iPhones, iPads, and iPods that makes it easy for parents to set limits on how much time their children are spending on their mobile devices.
It provides a realistic approach to parental controls, however, by acknowledging that the Internet isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon, and needs to be integrated into our children’s lives instead of being shunned as the enemy.
The parent’s iPhone is used to create custom schedules that block all Internet and app use at the times you specify (such as dinnertime, homework time, family time and bedtime) on a given device. You can also alter any of them at moment’s notice, as well as use the allowance feature to give them more screentime if you wish.
Several iOS devices can be paired to the parent’s phone, meaning you can create a different schedule for each member of the family with a device.
The Good Bits
The app was easy to install and sync with my phone, as long as you follow the instructions step by step as they appear on your phone.
Setting up the schedules is also quick and easy, and an added bonus is that you can also use it as a timetable of sorts for all of your child’s extracurricular activities so they know in advance what is coming up and can prepare for it.
Most of all, however, I loved the free, downloadable ‘Family Contract’ that they encourage you to print out from their website and have your child sign (once you have set up your child’s schedules on their mobile device and they know what they are agreeing to).
The Not So Good Bits
At first when I was installing the app on my tween daughter’s iPhone, it all felt a bit ‘Big Brother’, but once I saw how it worked and realised that it was completely reasonable (and in fact necessary) for us as parents to be restricting her screentime, I was okay with it.
What it Teaches
OurPact was born from the idea that responsibility can be taught through technology, and it doesn’t pit parents against their children. Instead it uses the world of Wi-Fi and connectivity to strengthen their relationship by encouraging communication, as well as compromise. If children want more screentime, they will need to ask for it and have a good reason. Having a regular schedule of ‘device downtime’ soon becomes the norm and children have to accept it as part of the privilege of having a device.
It teaches children that the use of a mobile device is a privilege, and that they can be used as a vehicle for trust building within families.
OurPact also gives children some control and responsibility in their online journey, but keeps parents get involved as their child learns to become a good online citizen.
Currently only available for iPhone users but plans are underway for an Android app.\ Requires iOS 8.0 or later
Most Suitable Age Range
Ages 4 and above – especially good for teenagers
How much: Free
Read more here