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VexBox throttles teens' Internet speeds. Evil, brilliant or both?

A Kickstarter project designed to encourage teens to do their chores works by slowing their Internet connection down to a painful crawl.

This teen is not amused by the VexBox. VexBox

This is how I imagine the conversation would go between a parent who has just installed a VexBox and that parent's teen:

"Have you cleaned your room yet?"

"No, mom. I'm video-chatting with my friends online."

"Oh, yeah? How does it feel to video-chat with them like it's 1998? Clean your room and I'll release you from the Internet Dark Ages."

The VexBox on Kickstarter is essentially a cube-shaped secondary router that you set up so your teen accesses the Internet through it. It's controlled through a browser and can be set to full-speed, 56k, a custom speed or turned off entirely without impacting a parent's Web connection. Adults can Facebook to their hearts' content while the upset teen has to complete homework or chores before being set free from Internet jail.

A test teen in the project video tries out the 56k speeds and announces, "This would make me really mad." In the age of broadband, dial-up speeds feel like purgatory. Granted, you may also have to confiscate your teen's smartphone with unlimited data if you truly want the VexBox to work.

There are other ways to manage your teen's Internet use, including software solutions like parental controls, turning the system off entirely or keeping the kid's computer in a place where you can monitor its usage. The VexBox may still appeal to parents looking for a simple throttling solution. It can also just sit there ominously like a little Borg cube, reminding your teen of your power.

With 30 days left to run, the VexBox has attracted around $1,500 in funding toward a $50,000 goal. The early-bird pledge price for a VexBox is $39 (about £36, AU$49). Tech-savvy teens may inevitably find a way around your attempts to shackle their Internet access, but parents can at least make it inconvenient for them. Whether that turns your social-media-obsessed child into a chore-rocking, homework-completing superstar is another matter.

VexBox prototype
The VexBox prototype plugged in. VexBox