If you ever meet my kids, please don’t tell them about this article.
If you do, you might accidentally ruin the best $4 I spend every week.
Allow me to explain.
When Apple updated the operating system for the iPhone, they included a feature called, “Screen Time.” Located in “Settings,” Screen Time gives you an instant look at how much time you’re spending on your phone. (Spoiler alert: It’s more than you think.)
If you touch the number that shows how much you’ve been on the phone today, it will give you the option to see your average for the last seven days. It will even show you which apps you are using the most. I used Twitter, Instagram, Text Messages and Google the most last week.
That by itself is interesting, but here’s the twist and the backstory about the best $4.
My 15-year-old daughter bet me $1 that she could spend less time on her phone each week than me. I was thrilled at this suggestion. Have you ever in your life heard of a teenager challenging you to see who can stay off an iPhone the most? That is amazing.
I accepted the challenge and said, “I’m so confident, I’ll double the stakes to $2.”
Never one to miss a fun game, my 13-year-old daughter joined in, too.
Now, every Sunday night, we get out our phones and compare our weekly averages. They usually beat me, in large part because my phone plays a big role in my job. (Follow me on Instagram @JonAcuff!)
But here’s why I don’t want you to tell my kids about this article. What they don’t know is that I would gladly pay $4 a week to keep them off their phone all year. We take off Spring Break and Christmas vacation so it only works out to about $200 a year. Plus, sometimes I win and it doesn’t even cost me anything.
It’s also become a fun connection point for us. We talk about it all week, texting each other our current Screen Time averages. My oldest daughter is so into it that she asked me to restrict her time on Instagram because it was too much of a time suck. This feels like some sort of technological miracle.
If I told my kids, “I want you to spend a lot less time on your phones, but I will give you each 28 cents every day” they’d laugh in my face. But that’s essentially what I’m doing in the form of a game.
It’s a powerful reminder that when you find a way to make something fun, your kids are a lot more likely to jump in.
Want your kids to put the phone down?
Make it a game.