News

Saturday 26 July 2014

Dinnertime: the app that is bringing back family meal time

New service offers parents a way to restrict access to phone at the table

Josie Ensor

Published 10/06/2014|14:40

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The family that eats together. Photo: Getty Images.

Every parent will have experienced a family meal time ruined by their child constantly checking their phone or playing games on their iPad.

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But one new phone app, ironically, could be about to save it.

The DinnerTime app claims to have come up with a solution to get children and parents talking over meal times again.

The free service works by activating the DinnerTime functionality to pause activity on their child's device. Everything from apps and the internet to texting and calling friends is temporarily disabled.

The parent sets an alert on their children’s handset that tells them how long they have before dinner. The gadgets are then locked once they have sat down to eat.

Once Dinner mode is activated, the child will see a message along the lines of: “Spend some quality time with your family. This device will be available in 44 minutes.”

The lock will then release and the child is free to play with it a usual.

The app was created by Richard Sah, co-founder of DinnerTime, who noticed his three children were always distracted.

“I've noticed they find technology to be addictive at times, playing games or watching videos on their tablets or phones, and are easily distracted by their devices at dinnertime and bedtime.

“This gave me the idea for DinnerTime, as I wanted to create something that could help my children focus on other activities, and we could enjoy quality time together.”

According to a recent study of parents, 89 percent of their six-to-nine-year-olds are active online, with only 14 percent of 3-5 year olds being able to tie their own shoes compared to a staggering 57 percent who know how to operate a tablet.

Young Song, CEO of ZeroDesktop, who launched the app, said: “For years people have been saying that technology is making us anti-social -- this is something we hope to change.”

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