Swati Jain just stole the words out of my mouth… err… document, with her Gadget-Driven Generation post. I had been meaning to write on the same issue, seeing how not just S, but almost every child I come across sits glued to smart phones and how parents have to device innovative techniques to keep kids off the technology.
Either surrender your gadgets to the young tykes or do not own them at all, making do with a basic phone and a laptop that you open when those little eyes close (for a nap).
I am going to tell you a story today. A real life, true story. Something that happened to me and drove me sleepless for a whole night – with parched lips, sweating palms and a racing heart. No, no ghost, no accident, no illness. All well there. In fact, it might even seem trivial now, but that night, I literally had a nervous break down.
Aug 18, 2017.
The Independence Day weekend. The hubby was out of town, visiting dad in Hyderabad. S and me had a happy weekend, spending time with my cousins and visiting exhibitions and fairs. Now it was Sunday night, and time to go to sleep so that we could be up and fresh for school the next day. Just the day before, on Saturday, I had discovered this wonderful app on the Play Store. The Toddler Lock. Anybody can guess why I wanted this app in the first place. S had taken to randomly deleting contacts off my address book and calling random people from my phone. So before he progressed to sending mails to my clients and checking my bank balance by himself, I thought it was time to look for an app that provided him entertainment without disturbing any of my stuff. And there it was, this app, sitting on Play Store, all free and with great recommendations. I immediately installed it. And to be fair, it worked marvelously.
The app would lock the screen and produces cute little shapes and figures in different colors, each with a tinkling sound. None of the other buttons would be available, Neither home, nor phone nor anything. To exit the app, one had to tap the 4 corners of the screen in a clock-wise manner. Absolute genius. I had patted myself on the back for discovering it. Only, my pride was short lived.
We went to bed that night, with S still playing on the app. I tried to distract him and take the phone out of his hands, but he just wouldn’t let go. A minor tussle ensued, and the next thing I knew, tapping the 4 corners was not working! And out of nowhere, the phone started talking too! I tried tapping the corners again and again. It brought up the exit screen, but I could not see it because the display of the app had hijacked the screen. All that I could see were the tinkling shapes, and they were growing more and more irritating with each passing minute. I tried locking and unlocking, but the pattern screen would not come. I tried calling the phone from my land line. The call came, but I could not pick up because the screen didn’t appear. And in my panic, I touched I don’t know what, and brought up settings in the background and changed all the settings.
The clock was ticking. I knew I had to put kiddo to sleep else he would not get up the next day for school, but the thought that the expensive phone that my husband bought for me as a gift, specially from US was not working, and that too thanks to the app I installed, made me ignore everything else. S had a jolly time that day, enjoying the uninhibited play time he was getting without being asked to go to sleep, while wondering why was mom looking as if she had seen an apparition. I couldn’t reach out to my husband for help. He was on his return journey, having had a nightmare himself with the bus services.
Then I turned to the next technology – the laptop and the internet. By this time, S had started feeling sleepy, and began whining. With great difficulty I stole myself away from the problem at hand and concentrated on putting him to sleep. Thankfully, all the play had tired him and he was asleep in a matter of minutes. I again returned to the web and started scanning for all possible solutions. To my horror, I found many people describing similar experiences about the Toddler Lock app in a lot of forums. There were very few suggestions though, and those that were there were all trial and error. I tried each and everyone of them, but to not avail.
The time was 2.30 am now, and I was desperate as I had never been in my life, unrelentingly tinkering with the phone. At last I found a website that offered – Try opening the phone in Safe Mode and then Force Quitting the application. Now how to open Nexus 4 in safe mode? Google again. The method was there, but it was tedious to carry out since the talk mode in my phone was making the touch screen unresponsive. After hundreds of tries and thousands of prayers, I finally managed to open the phone in Safe Mode and literally ran to the Apps window to Force Quit and uninstall the damned app. I was so done with it! It was when I rebooted the phone again, I could heave a sigh of immense relief. The phone was working normally, although some settings had changed. It was 3.30 am by the time I hit the bed and almost 4 by the time sleep overcame me. Then I was up by 5.30 since it was time to cook and get the kiddo ready.
What I learned that day is – never download random apps on your phone, especially those that take over controls of the system. The app did its work well, no doubt, but it was a little too well for comfort. I can afford that extra effort to keep S distracted from the phone, but can never ever undergo something like this, again. Phew!
Yamini is a software professional turned work-at-home-mom. Amidst her domestic responsibilities and a very demanding 2.5 year old son, she snatches time to write academic papers, freelance content, fiction and poetry. Her stories and poetry have been published in various online literary magazines and anthologies by Penguin Books and Cyberwit Publications. Yamini voices her thoughts now and then at http://myexpressionsandme.