John Hyde's 13-year-old daughter goes to log into Facebook and, wham! She gets a yellow-and-black screen instead. She's been blocked, Face Block-ed.
Mr Hyde, a Nelson software designer, has created an application that lets people block Facebook in their homes for an hour, with the press of a button.
"She hates it," Mr Hyde said.
Face Block was among the business ideas put to New Zealand entrepreneur and technology guru Rod Drury during a public event in Nelson a couple of weeks ago.
Mr Hyde, who is hoping to have the application available to the public by Christmas, said the more he talked to other parents about reducing their children's Facebook use, "the more extreme solutions I started to hear".
These included unplugging the router and locking it in the car and changing their wi-fi passwords on a daily basis, "like you might do at a motel or campsite".
"This is an easier way," he said.
Face Block disables people's Facebook access for an hour, and then it comes back on.
"You don't have to do anything else. They will squeal for a few seconds and get on with their homework and then later in the day they can go back on Facebook - and if they abuse it, it can go off again."
Mr Hyde developed the software because he was sick of his daughter rushing through her meal to get back on to Facebook, or being on the social networking site on Saturday mornings instead of getting ready for netball.
He said he was not against Facebook - "I think it's great", but it had its place.
"That's the secret - keeping it in its place. I like icecream - it's great, but you can't live on icecream. If you gave children a freezer of icecream they would just eat their way through it, instead of eating healthy food."
Mr Hyde, who is originally from Britain, has been developing software for 20 years and said he liked the problem-solving element of it.
"What I enjoy most is trying to make something as simple as possible. This is probably a big example of that. There isn't going to be a handbook on how to use it."
Face Block worked on smartphones, iPhones and regular PCs - "like a remote control".
Mr Hyde said he was in negotiations with internet service providers ( ISPs), so Face Block could be offered for about $1 a month on top of their clients' domestic broadband packages.
The big problem with alternatives such as unplugging one's wi-fi was that no-one in the house could use the internet, even for other reasons, and setting up systems that blocked particular sites was a complicated process.
"You don't want a new hobby; you just want a red button. It's for people that are looking for something simple and effective," he said.
Mr Hyde said Face Block could also be used by adults and students who lacked the self-discipline to stay off Facebook when they were meant to be working.
Internet safety and risk assessment consultant John Parsons said anything that gave parents control over Facebook use in the home was a positive thing, especially when it came to young children.
Mr Parsons said internet safety education was about teaching young people how to use the internet safely rather than banning it outright, but he would watch Face Block's release with interest.
“I think we should be able to limit the use of it, especially within the home.
"If you're talking about 15 or 16-year-old girls and boys then I think they have some choices as to what they do, but if you're talking about young boys and girls, 10, 11 years of age, then obviously we need to create some boundaries about how often they use this technology within the home,” he said.
Check out faceblock.co.nz for more information.
- © Fairfax NZ News