DinnerTime app dishes up quality time at the dinner table

Sick of competing with the endless interruptions from a multitude of gadgets that’ve been brought to the dinner table by your family? This new app could be the solution…

It's six o'clock and in unison around many a family dinner table ring out the words: "Jack/Lily/Tarquin…will you put that phone down!"

Yes, the parents among you will no doubt be plagued by (or perhaps be equally culpable of) the modern day menace of 24/7 fiddling with our mobile phones. The endless pinging, and ringing, and notifications of status updates. The tweets, and likes, and life-changing news that someone has lost a life in Candy Crush.

It's never-ending and follows us everywhere, including to the dinner table. But a new phone app, with no small amount of irony, could be about to provide the solution.

The DinnerTime app is a free service that pauses all activity on a phone or tablet for a set period.

When the app is activated, your kids - assuming it's the kids' phones that you're locking rather than a Facebook-obsessed spouse - will receive a message saying something like: "Oi, go and speak to your family and stop being antisocial. You can access this device again in an hour." Or words to a slightly politer effect.

And then, dun dun DUNNNN, mobile silence - just a countdown clock showing - until the phone unlocks itself at the end of the allotted time.

The app is the brainchild of Richard Sah, co-founder of DinnerTime, who wanted his kids' attention at mealtimes: "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. This gave me the idea for DinnerTime (so) we could enjoy quality time together."

The app can also be used for bedtimes, study periods and any other times you want your kids' attention.

Young Song, CEO of ZeroDesktop, the company which launched the app, said: "For years, people have been saying that technology is making us antisocial. This is something we hope to change."

You may be wondering why you can't simply use the 'Power Off' button, but with this app you can switch the app on remotely via your phone - so wherever your offspring are hiding with their mobiles, there's no escape from the countdown clock of enforced sociability.

There is no word on how it turns your teenager in to a chatty dinner companion, though. You might need a different app for that.

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