‘The Den’ helps parents manage their children’s tech usage [Sticky or Not]

The Den aims to regularly keep devices out of sight and out of mind


There’s a prevailing concern that people are glued to their screens for too long, especially when it comes to children.

With that in mind, Australian startup TechDen has created a device called ‘The Den’ that incorporates a physical storage unit and two companion apps to help parents manage their children’s phone or tablet usage.

To start, parents will have to download the TechDen app to their device and the TechDen Jr. app to their children’s device. Once the devices are paired to The Den storage unit, parents will be able to set designated usage times on their children’s smartphones or tablets through the app. Alternatively, parents can set a broader usage window and specific session duration to let their kids decide when they want to spend their allotted time.

Kids will later receive notifications on their phone or tablet as their session is coming to an end. Once time is up, the child will be instructed on the app to store the device in The Den. The doors on The Den will then shut and lock for a period of time, as determined by the parent.

Interestingly, The Den has two main functions, both of which are rather useful. Firstly, it can store and charge up to two Android/iOS tablets or phones. More importantly, The Den will recognize when a device is being charged and send a notification to the parent’s app to let them know accordingly. That way, parents can see if a device is returned on time.

Kids are encouraged to comply through an in-app system that rewards them for returning devices promptly. Specific goals for on-time returns can be set and overall progress can also be checked in the TechDen Jr. app.

TechDen is currently crowdfunding The Den on Kickstarter, with pledges beginning at $119 USD (about $157 CAD). Shipments to Canada cost an additional $25 USD (approximately $32.72 CAD), with delivery estimated for December 2018.

At the time of writing, the campaign has currently raised $30,023 USD (about $39,484 CAD) of its $50,000 USD (roughly $65,756 CAD) goal, with 34 days of funding remaining.

Verdict: Sticky

It should go without saying, but this product definitely isn’t for everyone, especially since crowdfunded products are always a bit of a gamble. Depending on how many kids you have or the kind of parental style you employ, this just might not be something you’d find useful.

As well, I can imagine some parents (intentionally or not) relying too heavily on this sort of tech, which probably wouldn’t be a good idea. We don’t want a case of helicopter parenting to turn into an episode of Black Mirror, after all.

That said, The Den seems like a solid educational tool if used in moderation. I can especially see single or stay-at-home parents with multiple children getting a good use of the device. The TechDen Jr. app’s notification system and the gamified way cooperation is encouraged appear to be particularly well-realized. The big question is whether your kid will cooperate with the whole process.

Note: This post is part of an ongoing series titled Sticky or Not in which staff reporter Bradly Shankar analyzes new and often bizarre gadgets, rating them sticky (good) or not (bad).