Why it matters to you
Parents trying to get their kids to take a break from the phone might find some success with Marshmallow, which works differently from most parental controls apps.
Every parent knows the struggle of competing with phones, tablets, and various other electronic distractions for their child’s attention. Kids are becoming experts of emerging technology faster than adults and while that may be encouraging for the future, it can lead to an unhealthy addiction — especially at a very young age. In response to this, Samsung has developed an app for its Galaxy phones that encourages kids to develop self-control and aims to foster “healthy smartphone usage habits.”
The app is called Marshmallow — not to be confused with the Android operating system — and is somewhat similar to existing parental controls apps in that it allows parents to lock their phones to specific apps and usage amounts. However, it also allows children to set their own limits.
When the child achieves their goals, they are rewarded with Marshmallow points; when they exceed the time they set, they lose points. More interestingly, the points collected can be exchanged, with parental permission, for gift cards to actual retailers like Amazon, Google Play, Best Buy, and Dunkin’ Donuts — all from within the app’s gift shop.
Many parental control apps simply restrict usage, but few incentivize putting down the phone like Marshmallow does. That could prove to be a much more useful and constructive method for eliciting long-term change in a child’s attitude toward technology. It’s also refreshing to see one of the world’s leading tech companies extend some trust to kids for a change by giving them the opportunity to take responsibility for their own dependence.
Obviously Marshmallow may not be successful for all kids and many parents may elect not to use it, instead opting for stricter, more traditional parental controls. But for those that do try it and get it to work, it looks to be a novel approach that will hopefully inspire more companies to try to make kids more self-aware of their habits. The app provides regular reports that parents and children alike can use to check their progress.
Marshmallow is available for a variety of Samsung Galaxy phones dating back to the S5, as well as the A and J series. You can download it on the Google Play Store here and check out our favorite parental control apps with this handy guide.