TITLE: Reclaiming the Millennials one Minecraft addict

TITLE: Reclaiming the Millennials one Minecraft addict at a time
"Hey Zac, you've been on that for hours, why don't you go out and play..."
Glazed stare and silence.
It's a scene that plays out
across homes all over the
world every day - parents
struggling to balance their
kids’ screen time and play
time. Any parent who's
seen that glazed look, or
felt like they’re talking to
themselves will know how
addictive games can be.
That is, if they can even
keep up with what their
kids are playing. With ever smaller and more portable devices, and thousands
of apps being released every single day, how can parents hope to keep on
top of it? Kik, Snapchat, YikYak, Vine, ChatRoulette, Tinder, Poof - how many
have you discussed with your child?
Whatever your view, while technology has raced ahead, tools to help parents
to raise "digital natives" have not. In fact, the problem is so bad, Internet
Gaming Disorder is now included in the influential mental health handbook,
the DSM.
Aussie entrepreneur Steven Pack experienced it firsthand when his nephew
Zac went from wanting to play cricket, wrestle and play with chemistry sets to
Minecraft - just Minecraft, all day, every day, except for some YouTube time...
of other kids playing Minecraft.
The problem is not confined to Australia either. The US dept of health
estimated that in 2006, 25% of kids exceed daily recommended screen time
guidelines. Fast forward to 2014 and that figure is 80%, with estimates that
kids exceed it by up to 2-3 times. It's not only a big problem, but a fast
growing one.
"It was OK at the start, but very soon any time not spent on Minecraft became
stressful. Cricket, a swim at the beach, any other activity became a matter of
how long it would keep him from Minecraft. When I saw him taking the laptop
into bathroom, that was the last straw." he says.
Image: Life pre-Minecraft!
Soon after that, KoalaSafe was born. Steven teamed up with Uni mate Adam
Mills, pitched for funding, and managed to raise $50,000 from Sydney
accelerator Startmate to prototype their device. It's now in homes around the
country, allowing parents to set time limits, block certain apps and categories
of content, as well as give them insights into where their kids spend all their
time - it will even tell you how they compare to other kids on the Koala
"The difference with KoalaSafe is that all devices in the home are protected,
without having to install special software. It's super simple for parents to use,
with a simple iPhone interface to change anything, such as setting a bedtime,
or just turning off the Internet for a period.”
The duo is currently trying to fund mass production of the device through the
Kickstarter campaign, before heading to Silicon Valley in April to pitch Venture
Capital executives.
You can support the project at http://koalasafe.com/kickstarter