Press-Republican

Education

August 26, 2013

App quizzes kids before phone use

CHAZY — In school hallways across the country, students walk around with smartphones in their pockets, raising concern among parents who believe their children interact with phones far too much.

Erick Vreeken, 40, of Chazy, decided to do something about it. Instead of keeping his kids away from their phones, however, he decided to turn his children’s cellphone use into a learning experience.

Vreeken developed Study Lock, a smartphone application that blocks teenagers’ access unless they answer grade-appropriate multiple choice questions in subjects such as math, science, writing and history.

Study Lock kicks in when phones go on standby.

“Every time you swipe to unlock your phone, you will be presented with study lock,” Vreeken said.

PHONE ADDICTED

Vreeken came up with the app after discovering an eye-opening trend in his children’s behavior. 

“I have two teenagers, and they sit on the couch and text each other,” he said. 

He also raised the point that getting his kids off the phone just to speak a few sentences became a challenge. 

Eventually, he noticed phone use was interfering with his children’s grades. 

That’s when he decided to get his hands dirty. With the help of a few professionals, the self-taught software developer created Study Lock.

NOT JUST PHONES

The Study Lock app is not limited to cellphones. It can be applied to a variety of technologies such as computers and computer tablets.

Before users answer questions prompted by the application, they are blocked from playing games, using the Internet and delivering text messages to numbers that are not predesignated as emergency contacts or 911. 

Questions vary in difficulty. 

Examples include “Who was the first president of the United States?” and “What is the symbol for helium on the periodic table of elements?”

Vreekan believes the app can become especially useful for teens and parents as the market for mobile technology expands.

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