Disconnect to Reconnect to Family and Friends

This app forces you to unplug and give space for human contact.

Dec 27, 2019

 (Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com)

Cell phones are a great way for people to stay connected. You can WhatsApp, Facebook message, Skype, or text your friends and family anytime you want day or night. Sometimes these digital connections can get in the way of our real lives.

Do you ever sit down with someone and wish you could turn off their phone? We often spend time with loved ones and find that their attention (and ours) is not always geared towards the conversation or mission at hand. Instead, our focus frequently shifts towards our cellphones, buzzing with social media updates and text messages. 

Well, like almost anything else – for those who are looking for a way to disconnect – there’s an app for that! 

That’s right. Zach Prager is the founder of Ransomly, an app that connects via Bluetooth and creates cellphone-free zones in specific locations of your choosing.  Whether at the dining room table or in the conference room, if you want a space to be designated phone-less you can set the app to lock nearby phones. 

Prager who earned a master's degree in applied positive psychology, explained that the purpose of the app is to “create a space that fosters healthier relationships.”

He came up with the idea when he noticed that he was spending an unnecessary amount of time on Instagram and Facebook instead of important household tasks, Prager told livehappy.

“I was having trouble keeping up with my chores at home, and my now-wife would get on me about not doing the dishes,” he said. “[I] knew if she could block [those apps], it would be a good motivator to get my chores done.” 

Being distracted by our phones and disregarding our responsibilities and loved ones is something we are all familiar with. Which is why Prager decided to invent the app. 

Ransomly works by connecting a beacon to nearby android phones in the area via Bluetooth and then automatically locking the home screen. Since Apple restricts any app blocks, the beacon kindly sends a memo asking IPhone users to put away their phones. 

He told livehappy that even just a little alert or vibration during a family dinner is actually much more disruptive than we realize. “It interrupts everything… you never really have full downtime… I see this as a digital health tool to help you intervene with a potentially addictive device. It’s really all about molding the physical environment to help improve your mental well-being.”

Tuning in to our loved ones is an essential way that we show them that we are listening to them, that we care, and that we are there for them. We also build community by being emotionally available for others. By turning off our phones when we are with people who are important to us, we strengthen our bond with them, and foster a healthy, compassionate, and long-lasting relationship. 

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.