Yesterday was an unusually long day here at TechRepublic, but the time still got away from me and I had to leave before I was able to blog about a particular news story that really hit home. So, excuse me as I digress ... this isn't the news, but it sure is recent: "New tech aims to get kids off the couch."
According to this story, a company called Hopscotch Technology has created a new time monitor device called Bob "that let parents control how much time their children spend watching television, playing video games, or using the computer. Bob consists of a timer and a reporter box. A device's plug is locked into Bob, which is then plugged into a wall outlet. Parents assign their children a certain amount of time on the device by day or week, and when it's up, Bob cuts the current."
As a parent, I am very well aware of the television/PlayStation battle. In fact, my son is overweight and should spend more time outdoors or doing some sort of physical activity. There are interactive PS2 games now that trick kids into exercising, such as EyeToy by Kinetic. However, I don't think my kiddo would fall for it. A couple years ago for Christmas, I got him the EA Madden Football Plug-n-Play TV Game that has the foot pad where you run vigorously in place when your TV counterpart has the football. We returned it because the accompanying football didn't work properly. I asked if he wanted a replacement, but he elected to get a sit-down-and-zone-out video game instead.
Right now, my son and I have a system worked out for TV time using poker chips. He has to earn the chips first by doing well in school and/or chores around the house. Then he can cash them in for half hour TV increments. The system is working pretty well so far, but it would be nice if I could get a little help from Bob. I could set the timer for a half hour or hour, depending on how many chips my son has earned and wants to cash in. I might have to investigate this technology once it's on the shelves. In the meantime, it's back to watching the clock. If anyone else has a system that they use with their kids (or husbands/wives) - one that works, I'd be interested in hearing about it.
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.