Nikki Gemmell's genius method for limiting her kids' screen time.

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Two terrifying words: Screen time.

Is it evil? Is it educational? Is it the best thing ever to keep your kids busy when you haven’t got the time/energy/will to deal with them? One thing it certainly is, as anyone who’s tried to prize an iPad from a four-year-old’s grasp knows, is addictive.

How to and whether to limit screen time for kids and teens is an endless debate for parents, who often feel like they are losing their curious children to the deep blue screen.

Author and columnist Nikki Gemmell was sick of it. So she took a stand.

Nikki bought a safe.

Nikki joined Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo on This Glorious Mess to talk us through how it works:

Nikki has four children, aged 15, 13, eight and four, and admits that they had become screen junkies. She tired of confiscating the dastardly devices and hiding them around the house, only to come home and find the house ransacked in a desperate search.

“I would hide them somewhere in the house, and then forget, forever!” she says.

The ingenious children would always find them.

“It was absolutely driving me bananas. We moved them back from the UK to marinate in the Australian light. And all they wanted to do was play FIFA 16!


“I found I was turning into a woman I did not like. A woman I recognised was going into a frightening place… I was tired. I was frustrated, because I was nagging them to get off the screens all the time.” Nikki told Andrew and Holly.

And so she went to Officeworks and bought a safe. It was so heavy her 15-year-old son had to carry it to the house from the car, innocent of the knowledge that it was about to ruin his life.

She got the idea while on holidays where she first started ‘forcefully extracting’ their phones from them. And it was so good she decided to bring it home with her.

And we think it’s a genius idea (not just because you know where they are all the time.)

“At first they were wandering around with glazed eyes like junkies…” But now, things have changed. “I reckon they’re calmer. They’re not fighting as much. And they’re engaging more. It’s just turning them into nicer people.”

As we said, genius.

Listen to the full episode of This Glorious Mess, including what the boundaries are for when the devices can be released from the safe, here: