Kids on Cell Phones Too Much? “Lock” Them in a Book #LifeHack


As like many other parents out there, my wife and I constantly battle with our kids about their cell phones and when it is ok to use them. If left to roam freely, I’m sure our kids would be glued to the tiny glowing screens 24/7 with bits of their mushy brain running out of their ear as they turned into little zombies. While I think a little bit of screen time is ok, there are times when it is not. So, we needed a place to store them where they couldn’t get ahold of them.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - lots of smartphones

At home, we have a policy of having all of our children’s cell phones charge in our bedroom at night time. This helps stop them from using their phones into the late hours. And, when they get home from school, they are “supposed” to plug them in so that they can do homework without them. This doesn’t work very well as they sneak in to get their phones when we are not looking.

So my wife bought a book safe at the local Target with the thought that we could lock the phones up during non-phone hours. It was a great idea but I decided to take it a bit further. I created a cell phone book safe with just a little bit of work. Now, we can lock away their cell phones (and even put an iPad Mini in) but still charge the phones while they are locked away.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe

And, there is, of course, that oh-so-subtle reminder that they should be READING MORE and getting on their phones LESS, so there is that justice of locking technology in a book…literally!

How to Build a Cell Phone Book Safe

My wife found some fake books that are safes at Target. Unfortunately, I don’t have a link to them but this is what they look like.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - book safe

You can probably pick something up like this for $15-20. One thing to look for is for the fake plastic pages as it may be a bit difficult to drill through actual paper (but it probably can be done).

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - closed book safe

It helps having the safe almost touching the fake plastic pages.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - safe within the book

With the safe open, you can see where the plastic pages are adhered to the metal safe. This is what gave me the idea to drill holes.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - open safe in the book

Here you can see another view of how close the fake plastic pages are to the metal walls. Be sure to look for this type of a safe.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - side view

I chose the largest drill bit that I could, one that works on drilling through metal as well. Sometimes it helps to do a smaller pilot hole.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - drilling the plastic

When you start drilling, be careful. For starters, it is difficult drilling through metal so be sure you anchor the safe down properly. Also, the drill bit will heat up a lot so be sure you have ventilation and don’t touch the hot bit. When I drilled, the bit melted the plastic.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - hitting metal

Once you drill through, it’s a good idea to file down the hole to make sure there aren’t any spurs or pieces of sharp metal.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - drilled hole

It’s important with the size of drill bit that you get one that is big enough to allow the iPhone charger cable to get through. Luckily, the new Lightning Cable has a small connector, otherwise the hole would be large.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - cables through the holes

If you choose a large enough book safe, you can put quite a few smartphones in there. You might also want to line the metal inside with felt or some sort of fabric. Just be sure that you don’t make it so “hot” that a charging phone overheats.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - device being charged

Here is the book safe closed and locked with the cables coming out.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - Locked but charging

And here is the closed book. This can sit on a desk and not look like it is holding and charging a bunch of cell phones.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - just a book with cables

Optionally, you can put some plastic or rubber plugs into the drilled holes. I did this because I didn’t want the cables to slip out and I wanted to cover the potentially sharp metal edges of the hole. I wouldn’t want to nick the charging cable.

HTD's Cell Phone Book Safe - optional rubber plugs

This first cell phone book safe is a bit rough, I realize, but it does do what it is designed to do:

  • Lock the phones away from the kids when they aren’t supposed to be on it
  • Provide the ability to charge the phones while locked away
  • Consolidate a charging location for multiple devices
  • Subtly tell the kids to go read a book instead of play on their phones

This project, building a cell phone book safe, as a whole probably takes just a few minutes to complete so give it a try!

HTD says: DIY projects are fun, especially if they serve multiple purposes.

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Michael Sheehan (“HighTechDad”) is an avid technologist, writer, journalist, content marketer, blogger, tech influencer, social media pundit, loving husband and father of 3 beautiful girls living in the San Francisco Bay Area. This site covers technology, consumer electronics, Parent Tech, SmartHomes, cloud computing, gadgets, software, hardware, parenting “hacks,” and other tips & tricks.

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