A Bolton entrepreneur and dad, Bill Stirling, has invented Tech-Break, a product designed to help families maintain healthy relationships with their screens.

A new and unique concept, Tech-Break is a lock box for the home with special features for tech devices and a customisable timer mechanism that prevents families from giving in to temptations and using their devices.

It is designed to help families collectively agree and implement regular screen breaks to reverse the effects of excessive tech use, which is known for impacting physical and mental health.

Mr. Stirling imagined the concept for Tech-Break in 2019, but the first lockdown inspired him to escalate development of the product as he recognised his own family were spending excessive amounts of time online during lockdown.

“My wife and I tried to enforce screen free periods during lockdown but, as I’m sure other parents will agree, that isn’t easy,” says Mr. Stirling, “the kids responded as though they were being punished when I tried to take their devices away for a couple of hours and they rightly questioned why my wife and I were still checking our phones — I couldn’t answer that. I realised the need for a tangible solution, an enforcer that ensures we all stick to our agreed tech breaks without parents being ‘the bad guys’.”

Tech-Break, controlled by buttons on the lid, has three timer modes allowing users to select a screen free period that works for them — between one hour and fourteen days.

  • Hour Mode allows users to select single hour increments between one and 24 hours. Designed for device-free mealtimes, homework sessions and educating the youngest family members to take regular short breaks from their devices.

  • Bedtime Mode automatically starts the timer at ten hours, users can then customise single hour increments up to 24 hours. This is the most important part of the day to be free of all family devices, to ensure a good night’s sleep, followed by a stress-free breakfast.

  • 24-Hour Mode allows users to set the timer based on daily increments up to fourteen days.

Once set, the countdown clock displays the remaining time and, when the timer runs out, the door automatically springs open.

The 24-hour mode has been of particular interest to Tiffany Shlain, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and best-selling author of ‘24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week’.

“Turning off screens one day a week can do wonders for the mind, body and soul,” says Tiffany, “I love how Tech-Break keeps devices out of sight, out of mind for an hour, bedtime or, what I suggest in my book, a full day each week.”

Dr. Amanda Gummer, child development expert and creator of The Balanced Play Guide, ran a group test of Tech-Break on families.

“When children do something physical, like putting a device away in a particular place, it can help process and reinforce the routine,” says Dr. Gummer, “children thrive on routines as it gives them confidence and helps embed healthy habits.”

Tech-Break also has additional features that make it gadget-friendly. The twoadjustable shelves and base offer ample storage for a family’s devices. There are three ports to insert charging cables through the back panel and USB-C and lightning-USB cables are included with the device.The ventilated back panel keeps gadgets safe from overheating while being charged.

Tech-Break retails at £99.99, with a two year guarantee included, and is available now from Tech-Break.com.


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