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Grand Valley State University Team Develops App to Limit Children’s Screen Time

The applied Medical Devices Institute (aMDI) at Grand Valley State University in Allendale today announced an app developed by a local entrepreneur that allows parents to manage the time their child spends on electronics.

The app, called Test 4 Time! (T4T), requires children to answer math questions correctly in exchange for screen time on tablets and smartphones. The content is intended for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

"The app addresses a difficult challenge all parents have and allows parents to manage their child's time on a device while making the experience fun, educational, and challenging," says Brent Nowak, executive director of aMDI.

Tim Smock, T4T’s inventor and founder, came up with the idea six years ago when his 7-year-old son asked to play video games every day.

"I would write down 20 math questions and told him if he answered them, he could have one hour on the Wii," says Smock. "I wondered if this process could be automated and came up with the idea for Test 4 Time."

Smock filed for a provisional patent in Aug. 2011 and began exploring development options.

In 2016, Smock worked with students at Grand Valley’s school of computing and information systems to create a prototype of the app. He came to aMDI earlier this year to bring the app to the market. AMDI then hired Josh Doneth, a computer science major, to help design and write code for the app. In six months, aMDI created a full development program for T4T, from market study to product testing to launch.

The next step for T4T is to expand it to hardware devices so that children are required to earn time on TV and video game consoles.

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