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Family dinner time: There's an app for that

When I was little, I was an avid reader. (Despite my 100 challenge last year, I'm hesitant to describe myself that way now, because I find it difficult to find the time to read.) I used to read after school, before school and sometimes in the middle of the night with a flashlight (sorry, Mom). I remember one time I tried to read at the dinner table. But, my Mom stopped me. For her, dinner time was family time.

And that is how I like to think of dinner time today: As family time. I try to impose a "no media at the table" rule in our household and so far it has met with varying degrees of success. But we are adults and sometimes we slip up. And, even when the devices are off, we can often hear them buzzing from underneath the table. So, I wasn't really surprised by the unveiling of the DinnerTime App.

Yes, this is all true: There is now an app available for iPhone and Android that locks devices (smartphones or tablets) for a set period of time. That means no Internet, no texts, no calls no games buzzing for the entire meal. No interrupting technology. Just conversation. Or, silent chewing.

More robust versions of the app allow parents to monitor device use, impose longer pauses on devices (like during the night), and share controls across parents. 

At first, my paranoid mommy self shuddered to think about what the company was doing with all the data that it potentially collects from usage. But then I thought about families I see in restaurants, where the parents are staring at the back of a device that is blocking their loved one's face. Or worse, when the children are staring at a device, instead of their parents' faces.

Maybe the app is inevitable. After all, we have parental controls on our televisions and computers, why not on our children's devices as well?

What do you think? Is an app that can remotely disable other devices in your household a band-aid on a larger problem or a lifesaver? Tell me at Sorry, Mom. I didn't listen.

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