Like many ideas, controlights was also concieved from a need. During a conversation while walking in the park on the many quarrels and difficulties around the children's phone usage, the reasons and the possible solutions, all of a sudden we realized that we have the tools to build a technological solution that relies on psychological-educational knowledge.
We started working on it immediately, first of all in order to solve the problem in our homes. Very quickly we saw that the amount of fights and the level of tension have fallen dramatically. That increased our motivation to continue.
From conversations with other parents we understood more and more how this difficulty and the need for a solution to moderate the cellular use of children (and parents) are vast issue.
Deepening in the subject of the devastating effects of excessive use and the scope of screens addiction among children and adults has marked another goal.
We believe that the technological flood necessitates moderation mechanisms so we won't drown. To that end we developed controlights - a moderation mechanism aimed to normalize the technological abundance and keep us safe in it.
In today's technological world, many parents find it difficult to find the appropriate way to give their children smartphones while maintaining a moderated usage of applications.
A lot has been said about the damage caused by excessive use of cell phones - from alienation and isolation through mood disorders, sleep hours to ADHD and even addiction.
Still, the cell phone has become a major means of communication from a young age that is hard to do without.
Many parents who are aware of these advantages and disadvantages, as well as the importance of open communication in the family and developing the personal responsibility of every child, come with their child to an agreement that determines the terms and conditions suitable for applications usage. This agreement, even if done out of mutual and respectful dialog between the child and the parents, and even if both parties understand and agree on the importance of its operation, is not enough.
The reason is that for a child (as well as for an adult) it's very hard to estimate the actual time of apps usage, it's even harder to succeed summing split usage times during the day, and it's particularly hard to decide that that's it - now I have to stop even if I'm right in the middle.
So if for a child, whether he/she wants more or less, it is difficult to actualize the agreement, the parent remains the enforcing authority that needs to monitor, measure, and stop the child's apps usage, and on demand to threaten and even confiscate the device. This point is problematic in itself. The phone is a personal device that adults and children develop a connection to. If giving the device to the child is conditional, bitterness might develop and in many cases the conduct around the phone turns into a battlefield and at constant source of tension at home.
The problem is the nature of the device. On the one hand is vital - it is also a telephone with which the child can contact us we he/she is elsewhere and we need to meet, deliver different messages, or ask for help. There are applications that are used for standard communication and messaging between the child and different groups he/she belongs to (the class and the teacher, after school classes, etc.). On the other hand, is an attraction that draws the child into it, consumes his/her time, detaches him/her from the surrounding world and replaces personal relations with virtual ones.
Parents often would like to give the child a phone but realize that the device with all its functions is not really suitable for young children, or older ones. So they give it to the child in sort of lack of better options, and hope he/she will handle it with the responsibility that adults find it difficult. And when he failes, as a child suposed to in a task that is too hard on him/her, the frustrated parent faces a variety of unfavorable options - whether to give up, confiscate, or act as a cop at home.
We wish we could only give our children things that we believe they can handle. controlights helps adjusting the nature of the apps usage to the specific child by age, maturity and needs, and to change these adjustments as the child grows and matures, or when the needs and applications used are changing. Then it's feasible to give a child the device wholeheartedly (almost). Since the app prevents overuse of the phone, the family atmosphere is cleared of tension around the phone and the child can finally feel that if we gave him the device, it's really his.
When deciding to give the child a smartphone, it's important to sit down together and check whether he/she understands the nature of the device, what is good and what is harmful about it, and how is it appropriate for a child his/her age to use it.
Sometimes in the everyday race we assume that the kids understand things that seem obvious to us but perhaps they don't, or we presume they are not aware of things they in fact are, and we find it difficult to take the time to check things and talk about them openly. Sometimes we just avoid issues we are concerned that elicit stress, arguments and fights, especially in front of our teenagers.
We must remember that we are the parents and it is our job to teach children healthy consumption of products (including technological ones) and also handling conflicts, which is an issue in itself. The conflict, if handled in good faith for both parties, has the potential to expand the mind, deepening the relationship and increased the sense of capability for handling challenges.
On our way to teach a child to be an independent and responsible adult, we pass at shared responsibility, where we don't throw him/her overboard to manage on their own, but also do not keep full control in our hands. controlights enables shared responsibility where it is essential, in a way that respects the child, looking at him/her at eye level, taking his/her wishes and opinions into consideration, but also the parents'.
The question when to give the child a phone becomes an easy one - when we feel he/she needs it.
The question how to enforce the celluar usage agreement with the child becomes an easy one - with controlights.
The family is free to invest energies in positive places.
controlights brings to the table the important discussion about the phone's place in our lives with all that it contains and in a continuous manner.