Family Matters: Here’s how to log your kids off

Seb James of with his sons Marcus (left) and Lucian
Seb James of with his sons Marcus (left) and Lucian
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Dad Seb James decided to put his computer skills to good use when he was worried about the amount of time his small son was spending staring at a screen.

He said: “I’ve got two kids who are six and eight now. About five years ago my eldest son Lucian was starting to use the computer. By the time they’re three they’re on the computer these days!

“We started having trouble getting him to stop when we wanted him to. It would turn into essentially a conflict. That would happen every time.

“I wrote a really simple programme to cut down the time and boot him off and end the session when the time was up.”

Seb, who lives with his family in Walkley, Sheffield, co-runs a firm called William Matthew Ltd that provides software to automatically create documents for insurance companies.

He said the programme cut the tension in the family. “It was no longer a fight between him and mum and dad. At that age he saw it as the computer that logged him off. We made sure to allow him to use the computer but not to overdo it.”

Seb said that eventually Lucian was disagnosed with Asperger syndrome, which means he has more trouble that most children with controlling his emotions, so the programme was even more valuable as Lucian understands how much time he is allowed every day.

Seb decided to work on a version that he could market and set up The idea is that parents can set the total amount of time each day that each of their children are allowed on computers, laptops, tablets and on TV, if it is an up to date model. Windows computers will be first, followed by Macs. They will also have the option to control it via a smartphone app. Parents could also opt to add or take away time as a reward or punishment.

Eventually Seb will work on adding in gaming consoles, although he will have to seek permission from each manufacturer. He is still ironing out the glitches and will charge an annual fee but for now he is looking for testers for the beta version.

We’ve asked a dad who works at The Star to try it out with his children and see what he thinks, then we’ll report back.

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