Gaming addiction is becoming a recognised problem in modern society. QTIME is a newly launched device for parents made by a father-and-son company based in rural Wiltshire. It plugs into your child’s Xbox or PlayStation console and parents use the app to set a daily time allowance, see how much time was spent playing games this week or even turn off the screen right now.
I got the opportunity to interview James Potter (the son) about how they got started and the benefits of limiting your child’s time in front of the screen.
I heard that there’s an interesting backstory to coming up with this idea. How did it all start?
I was utterly addicted to computer games when I was a teenager. I would honestly try to spend every waking hour playing if I could get away with it. I’d even try to take sick days from school so that I could stay at home gaming!
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation and now children play games on their phones too – they can continue playing even while they’re at school.
My father Keith would try everything to get me to stop playing so much. I think this experience stuck with him and at some point in the intervening fifteen years he came up with the idea for a device to help parents in a similar situation. Eventually, the QTIME device was born and we just launched it in the UK a few days ago.
I have a teen who is glued to his screen. We have even caught him playing it at 4 am so now we confiscate his controls into our bedroom when we sleep. What was it like in your household?
I remember my dad trying everything to get me to stop playing these games. He would turn off the mains power to the whole house, take the whole games console with him to the office, disable the internet connection. You name it. It was a constant battle.
Luckily I eventually grew out of it but not until I was eighteen or so. I think a device like this would have helped to teach me some moderation.
Why should parents be limiting their children’s gaming time?
There are all sorts of benefits to reducing a child’s screen time. Statistics show that kids who spend more time in front of their screen are more likely to suffer from obesity, disruptions to their sleep and even be a victim of cyberbullying.
A recent study we found by Cambridge University concluded that an extra two hours of screen time each day results in dropping a grade in four exam subjects.
Is this really such a big problem that parents need to buy a device? A lot of people might think that it’s the responsibility of a good parent to teach their kids the value of moderation!
Gaming addiction seems to be getting worse, especially the recent rise of highly addictive games like Fortnite.
Last year the World Health Organisation even classified gaming addiction as an official mental health condition and it’s even now treated by the NHS.
Surely my child can find another HDMI cable and circumvent the time limits?
QTIME is smart and is able to detect when it has been removed from the screen or unplugged entirely.
The QTIME app will email you as soon as it looks like someone is trying to circumvent it. The app also shows you if the QTIME device has been unplugged for a while and whether it thinks the games console is on right now, so it’s easy to see what’s going on.