Technology is a wonderful thing. We all use it and, let’s be honest, we couldn’t be without it, and it does make life so much easier. Technology and our devices are here to stay but it does have its problems, too much screen time or use of our devices can be damaging to family life and overall health (with psychological and mental issues such as depression, narcissism, distraction, the expectation of instant gratification and even physical issues with vision problems, hearing loss, neck strain and repetitive strain injury). Walk down any street and partake in some people watching, the amount of people, especially children, teenagers and young adults, that you will see with their head down staring at a mobile phone screen will be staggering and can be dangerous when they are not paying attention to where they are walking or when crossing the road. Technology is very addictive for everyone.
With stats reported such as:
- “81% of 8-11 year olds watch TV, play video games and go online for 37.5 hours a week.” – Royal College of Physicians
- “Teens who report the least in-person interaction and the most screen time have the highest rates of loneliness and depression.” – SAGE Publishing
- “The more time spent with devices, the more social development suffers in areas such as interacting with others and compliance with directions.” – BMC Public Health
technology and its uses can sound quite frightening. It isn’t, it is nothing to be frightened of or shunned, screen time and tech use just needs to be managed better. That’s easier said than done. Managing screen time can be tricky, whilst some people can manage this quite well, others need a bit more help. In our house, we think we manage quite well but given the chance the eldest child (pre-teen) would have her phone implanted into her hand and have a sore neck and back from developing a stooped posture from being bent over the phone screen 24/7.
Having a break from technology is recommended for a variety of reasons, including eye strain, mental health and delayed learning reasons. As it is easier said than done, especially with kids having to do a lot of their homework online these days, help is at hand. If the temptation of picking up a device is too great or you can’t help but give in the pester power of tech-addicted children and putting the phone or tablet in a drawer just doesn’t work for you, there is another way. Lock it away with Tech-Break!
Tech-Break is a safe for your phones, tablets and other small devices. Out of sight and out of mind, that’s the theory anyway.
We were recently sent the Tech-Break box for review, but what is it?
The Tech-Break is a lockable electronic box that fits multiple devices, like a safe, that you place your phones, tablets, handheld gaming consoles, gaming controllers and more in (and they can even be charged whilst locked away). The idea isn’t to keep the items safely locked away to secure against theft, but to give a bit of help in getting off our devices and enjoying life without a screen or some other tech device taking control over us, having a break from our tech and claiming back our lives! The idea behind the Tech-Break box is that once devices are placed inside, a range of timers can be set so that devices held within cannot be used until time is up and the door springs open to release them. You might want to lock away the kids devices at bedtime so that if the kids arise early they cannot reach for their devices straightaway, maybe they need to be removed for an hour whilst homework is being done or maybe when you feel that the kids have had far too much screen time that day already and they need a hour or two break from them to just be kids and go and play. Lock them in the Tech-Break box, set the timer and the kids know then that their devices cannot be used until that door releases. This gives them a break from the tech.
What’s in the box:
- 2m Micro-USB Power Cable
- 1m Lightning Charging Cable
- 1m USB-C Charging Cable
The Tech-Break box is a sleek and compact black box (plastic) that has a premium matt black finish (it will fit with most home décor). It measures 30cm(W) x 25.8cm(H) x 25.8cm (D) externally, with internal measurements of 28cm(W) x 22cm(H) x 22cm(D). It is an electronic “safe” and can be powered two different ways: by USB (a 2-metre micro-USB cable is supplied by no AC adapter, but we all have loads of these around the house) or by 3xAA batteries (not supplied). It features 2 internal slide out and removable shelves that can be adjusted to 4 different levels, giving you 3 different levels to accommodate different devices. It also features 3 input holes when you can run charging cables into the Tech-Break, allowing you to still charge your devices whilst they are locked away. It is recommended that you only charge 3 devices in the Tech-Break. The box is fully vented to dissipate any heat and stop devices overheating. Any devices that you want to charge need their own power adapter as they cannot take power from the Tech-Break box.
Externally, the Tech-Break features a 2.8” LCD Colour Screen on top to display the different modes and timer. On the top of the box, it also features a power button and the easy to navigate mode/timer select buttons. On the rear of the box is a keypad, this can be used in an emergency to override the timer by inputting a passcode.
Setting up and using the box is very simple following the easy-to-read instructions. You can change the default six-digit passcode to one of your own, which we would recommend but only after testing out the box to get used to the functions and making sure that it all works.
The Tech-Break has 3 user-friendly timer modes that allow you to select a timer mode (or screen free if you prefer) of between 1 hour and 14 days. These are set using the buttons on top of the box with the results of your options displayed on the colour screen. The timer modes are:
- Hour Mode: this allows users to select single hour in increments between one and 24 hours. Designed for device-free mealtimes, homework sessions and educating the youngest family members to take regular short breaks from their devices.
- Bedtime Mode: this automatically starts the timer at ten hours, users can then customise single hour increments up to 24 hours. This is the most important part of the day to be free of all family devices, to ensure a good night’s sleep, followed by a stress-free breakfast.
- 24-Hour Mode: this allows users to set the timer based on daily increments up to fourteen days.
Once you have placed your devices inside the Tech-Break and the door closed with a timer set, the clock on the screen with display the remaining time. Once the time expires, the door will automatically spring open allowing devices to be removed.
Once you have decided on your timer and placed your devices inside the Tech-Break, the devices are locked away until the door opens. This stops anyone still using the device without your knowledge. There is an emergency override should you wish to remove the devices before the timer is up, but you will need the six-digit passcode. Should you need to use this, you will need to turn the box around (it is light so won’t be an issue) and press the star button twice followed by the passcode. If the correct code is entered, then the door will spring open.
Overall, we think that the Tech-Break is an excellent idea. Once you and your family have decided on a plan for when devices are going into it, i.e. bedtime, dinner time, homework time etc., everybody knows that they will be unable to use their devices until the door opens, the Tech-Break is a visible deterrent. We feel that this is more useful than putting the devices in a drawer where pester power can then come into play. It will help the whole family manage their tech-free time a lot better (especially ungluing the anti-social devices from surly teenager hands). The box is a good size and is perfect to house tablets, handheld gaming consoles, game controllers as well as mobile phones.
We found that the best way to power the Tech-Break was via USB as if using batteries, on average they will last approx. one month if the Tech-Break is set in timer mode once a day (that is dependent on the quality of batteries used). We are forever changing batteries in our house and using this on batteries would be another thing we would forget about changing and then having no batteries when it did run out (you do get a warning on the screen when the batteries are near their end of life).
Being able to charge any devices whilst in the box is a great idea, as with the downtime they might as well be being charged as well. The only thing we would have liked to see built into the Tech-Break would have been a USB hub so that charging cables could be plugged into this and charged the devices directly from the box itself (obviously this would only work if the box was running from mains power rather than batteries).
The Tech-Break box is a good size and lightweight and is easy to move around using the carry handles on each side of the box. Along with the battery option this makes it portable, especially if you wanted to take it away with you if you were going to visit relatives for a few days for example. It is a plastic box and could be forced open so please don’t use it as secure storage for valuable items.
It you are looking for ways to help you manage all your children’s handheld tech and need something stronger than placing items in a drawer, then the Tech-Break is a very good visual deterrent and one that can help everybody stick to the family rules about screen time and tech. Obviously some will power is required not to give in to pester power and overriding the timer. It is also perfect for putting items into at bedtime so that kids can’t get up in the middle of the night or really early in the mornings and start playing straight away.
At £99.99 it is quite expensive, and for this price we would have liked to see a USB hub included within the casing of the box to charge devices, but if it helps manage screen time better and give back more of a family life with the kids playing together and the family doing things together then it really does have to be worth it.
We have now been using it for a few weeks, did we find that it worked? Yes it did. Once the kids got used to the idea that once the devices locked inside couldn’t be used until the door electronically popped open, they didn’t ask for their devices and just got on with playing together, reading etc. (and if I had my way, I would have a bigger version for the television!)
Disconnect your tech to connect with your family and friends.
For more information or to buy, visit tech-break.com.