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New app lets parents control children's devices

DinnerTime Parental Control allows parents to disable children's smartphones remotely

DinnerTime enable parents to remotely control when their children can use their device.
DinnerTime enable parents to remotely control when their children can use their device.

A new app has been created which allows parents to remotely restrict when their children can use their smartphones, Reuters reported.

DinnerTime Parental Control was created by a team of developers at ZeroDesktop, Inc., based in Silicon Valley, to help parents struggling to get their children away from smartphones and tablets for meals, homework, exercise and other activities.

"The price of entry level smartphones and tablets have come down a lot, and as a result, more and more kids have their own individual devices," said Richard Sah, co-founder of DinnerTime.

Sah said he was inspired to develop the app by the tradition of family dinners, which he thinks is being lost in the age of technology.

"Dinner time brings families together for quality time and to have lots of different conversations. We want people to come together for engaging conversations, rather than be distracted by a tablet," he said.

To use the app, which is available for iPhone or Android smartphones, parents need to install it on the child's device and enter in their phone number to link the two devices. Parents can then set specific break times, ranging from 30 minutes to three hours, when the device will be locked. A countdown screen displayed on the child's device shows when they can use it again. Once a device has been paused, all functions on their device are blocked, including the ability to text and play with apps.

Usage of smartphones and tablets among children has tripled since 2011, according to Common Sense Media, a San Francisco based non-profit that studies the effects of media and technology on young users.

DinnerTime Plus, another free app from the company, lets parents manage the apps their children use and to views the apps they are using in real time. Parents can also purchase detailed reporting, which outlines how much time kids spend on certain apps, and how often they used them.