Device could help limit time children spend on video games

Parents wanting to limit the amount of time their children spend playing video games can turn off and monitor devices through a new app.

The app pairs with a device that plugs into a computer, PlayStation 4 or XBox console and allows parents to see how much time is spent playing games and immediately shut down screens.

Computer science graduate James Potter, 29, and his father Keith, 57, developed the QTIME technology – short for Quiet Time – on their farm in Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire.

The device is a smart HDMI cable that pairs wirelessly with a home’s wifi and is controlled by an app.

The device can be plugged into games consoles including the PlayStation 4 (University of Bath/PA)
The device can be plugged into games consoles including the PlayStation 4 (University of Bath/PA)

Children playing on a games console receive a 10-minute warning that their daily gaming time is nearly up and when that time is reached, the device turns off the screen.

QTIME is able to detect when it has been disconnected and emails the parent as soon as it suspects that a child may be trying to bypass it.

The app also flags if the device has been unplugged for a while and whether it believes the games console is in use – allowing parents to track their children’s gaming activity if they are not home.

James Potter, who graduated from the University of Bath, has been developing the technology with his father over the past two years.

“I wanted to spend every waking hour playing computer games when I was a teenager,” Mr Potter said.

“My father would try all sorts of tactics to get me to moderate my gaming, including turn off the mains power to the whole house.

“We appreciate gaming is a hobby enjoyed by many and the motivation to create QTIME is not to stop children playing video games entirely, but to identify a technical solution to restrict the time they spend gaming each day where necessary.

“No parent wants to have to confiscate their children’s games console or pull the plug out of the TV but if we can help parents to balance their children’s daily gaming time, we hope this may contribute to an increase in their overall health and perhaps, as in my case, their exam results.”

Mr Potter said he used his knowledge of C programming from his degree to write the code that runs on QTIME.

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