Homeschooling During the COVID-19 Lockdown? … 5 Clever Spots to Hide Your Kids’ Phones Till the Homework Gets Done

Scott Wilson
Author/IT Consultant

You may not have realized what a curse mobile devices are for the average teacher, but you're about to find out!

With COVID-19 running rampant and schools shutting down around the world, more and more parents are being enlisted to the role of home schoolteachers. And that means trying to stick to some pretty boring curriculum while competing against the handheld distractions teachers do battle with on the daily.

Eyes-down used to be what teachers wanted to see in their classrooms. Now, eyes-down usually means someone is texting, streaming TikTok, or ‘gramming it up in class instead of paying attention and getting their work done. It's been an uphill battle for teachers to compete for attention in a room full of those addictive little devices; now the struggle is yours.

In a way, mobile devices and the internet are a savior in this time of social distancing. It's a way to stay plugged in with friends and family and to keep in touch with work and school at a distance-in fact, it's the very technology that is allowing effective home schooling to continue during these trying circumstances.

But that doesn't mean that it isn't still a real hindrance to effective classroom performance, even at home.

You could sit down and have a respectful, adult conversation with them about the importance of focusing on the future and completing their schoolwork in a calm and straightforward manner instead of wasting their days doombrowsing on their mobile devices. But who are we kidding? They're definitely going to pick up the phone and ignore your highbrow advice. You need another solution, fast, to get them to focus.

And in this case, the best solution is the most low-tech option on the table - take them away and hide them.

1 - Use your old, reliable Halloween Candy and Christmas present stash spot…

Hiding things from your kids isn't exactly a new game. For years now you've been inventive about stashing everything from Halloween candy to Christmas presents where the kids would never even think to look, and there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

You've already gone to a lot of trouble to think like your kids so you could come up with the most counterintuitive corners of the house to hide things, so you may as well just throw the phones up in there, too.

And in the middle of a major crisis, the world coming down around them, your kids aren't going to be wasting time going to the candy stash that they have no idea even exists.. Wait, what are we thinking?.. On second thought, never mind, you're probably going to need to get more clever than that.

2 - Reverse psychology… Hide devices in the exact place you wish they would be getting into: their bookbags…

Assuming you're doing your job in your new role as homeschool teacher, the books will already be out of the backpacks and on the kitchen table by now… but even if not, this could literally be the last place on Earth they think to look.

They're out of school, and no matter what's going on in the world, that fact alone is going to make the self-quarantine feel like a vacation to them. At this point, the most frightening thing for your kids is likely the thought of having to eventually go back. Since their school bag probably triggers thoughts of that dreaded place, it won't even get a second glance for the next few months.

Hiding things in plain sight is a great trick when you can pull it off. And when you are hiding their stuff inside their own stuff, well, that's a master-stroke of genius.

They don't have any reason to suspect you would want to rummage around in that ratty old Jansport. They probably figure you're just happy it's not lying on the floor obstructing the front door. Plus they think they already know what's in it! Toss the iPhone in the bottom of the bag and your work is done.

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3 - Capitalize on their laziness and put the phones where the chores get done…

You've been trying to get them to give you a hand with chores like the family laundry for years now without any luck. It's time to use that laziness against them now. If there's a place in the house that's dedicated to those chores, they'll avoid it like the plague… even during a plague!

That makes the laundry room the perfect hiding spot. Plus it's got lots of loose clothes and boxes of detergent to hide things behind. And in case you forget to silence the thing before you stash it, the noise of the washer and dryer will drown out and stray beeps, yips, and chimes.

Of course, if you're in an apartment or some place that doesn't have its own laundry facilities, this isn't such a bright idea. But even if you don't have a washer and dryer, you still have laundry supplies stashed somewhere! Throw the phone behind a box of detergent and you should be all good for the duration of the lockdown.

4 - The best place may not be in the house at all…

Although a shelter-in-place order isn't the same thing as an enforced indoor quarantine, your tech-addict kids may not be that into nature and the outdoors even when it's open for business. So if they aren't going outside, maybe their devices should!

There are a million nooks and crannies out in the yard or garden shed where a phone or tablet could be snuggled in with no one the wiser. Underneath the garden gnome? Behind the lawn mower they never use? Next to a smelly sack of fertilizer they wouldn't be caught dead touching? The possibilities are endless.

This option requires a little preparation to make sure you don't end up having to buy them new devices when all this is over... but we're pretty sure that's what double freezer Ziploc bags were really designed for.

5 - Wedge them behind your doomsday toilet paper stash…

Don't deny it, we know you have one. You filled up the back of the minivan with Charmin just like everyone else on the block, and now you have a great pyramid of the stuff stacked somewhere in the house, a monument to the end times.

Even if it's not quite actually the end, can you think of anywhere your spawn are less likely to want to go digging for their phone than under that mountain of stacked toilet paper that now represents the bulk of their prospective inheritance? It's embarrassing and unsightly and they are probably already avoiding it-it's just a huge reminder of how much their parents freaked out about the coronavirus. So uncool. As an added bonus, nothing muffles the sound of beeps and pings like TP does.

In all likelihood, you don't have to worry about them digging around too much in the pile of dry-wipes - that is, as long as they don't end up getting the prepper bug themselves and seeing it as the perfect indoor bunker-building material.

Wherever you decide to hide them, make sure it's easily accessible to you. At some point, the whining is going to get on your nerves. When that happens, you're going to want to be able to return the phones fast so you can have a little peace and quiet.

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Scott Wilson