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  • Northside West

Phone addiction is boxed off

Monday, 3rd December, 2018 1:00pm
Phone addiction is boxed off

Jenny McGrath with daughters Jessica (6) on the left and Heather (8). 

Phone addiction is boxed off

Jenny McGrath with daughters Jessica (6) on the left and Heather (8). 

Orla Dwyer

JENNY McGrath, from Santry, was shocked when her kids diagnoised her with a serious condition. She was addicted to her mobile phone, they informed her.

It was the wake-up call Jenny needed and she decided to do something about it. And that's how the ideal for her unique, non-techproduct aimed at keeping families away from the glare of a screen was born. 

Jenny made ‘The Present Box’, a package containing a plush box called Boxie and an activity playbook packed with great, non-tech ideas for parents and children to do together. 

“The prevalence of devices and mobile phones began to take me away from my kids,” she admits. “As my kids found voices, they were able to say: Mammy put your phone away.” 

Jenny worked for Gymboree in London before moving to Santry in 2006. Gymboree offers play and music classes for parents and children and Jenny bought a franchise in North County Dublin, which she continues to run. 

Three years ago, she was on a mindful retreat when the idea for ‘The Present Box’ came to her.

The idea is that everyone puts their phone in Boxie and does an activity as a family.

“It was slightly different to what it is now,” says Jenny. “It was literally a small, brown cardboard box with just space enough to put a phone in.”

After seeing the topic of phone addiction grow in popularity, Jenny brought her idea to a brand identity company last November and it “grew legs from there”. 

She says people are very passionate about the product and its message.

“Everybody wants a change but nobody seems to know how to do it,” she says.

Boxie and the activities were created by Jenny and her children. 

“We got inspiration just from all around us,” Jenny tells us. “We found better quality time when we got back to basics and we found things around the house and outside.”

Jenny is much more conscious of her screen time since creating the product and the family don’t watch TV anymore. 

“The pockets of time that I do have, I’m not scrolling around on my screen,” Jenny says. “I’m not sitting there on the laptop as they’re doing homework.”  

The company recently tested the box with 10 families. After just three days, Jenny said parents were saying, “it’s not just a toy, we have found that it’s forming our daily lives”. 

“It’s opening up different experiences with the families and a different awareness of how they’re spending time,” Jenny continues. “It’s really stuff we all know but we have just been so distracted with devices and a busy, busy life.

“We have kind of forgotten how simple it is to just come back and play.”

The main target market for The Present Box is busy parents with kids aged between two and eight, but Jenny said people without kids were considering buying it for their partner or sibling. 

“It’s giving children a voice to say to Mum and Dad: please put your phone away, I want to spend time with you,” says Jenny. 

‘The Present Box’ went on sale in late November and is currently available online at www.thepresentbox.com. It costs €29.99 plus shipping. Jenny is in talks with retailers to get the product into shops.

She is also working on a second version of the box to be released next May. She intends to work on a box for adults and couples in the future.

“There really is nothing needed to build your sense of family togetherness and belonging. All you have to do is sit with each other,” Jenny advises.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here