Have you ever been tempted to kidnap your teen’s or your spouse’s phone and hold it for ransom—just long enough to get their attention? If so, you may be in luck, and it’s all because software developer Zack Prager kept forgetting to do the dishes.
“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 says. “I realized that I was spending too much time on Instagram and Facebook and knew if she could block [those apps], it would be a good motivator to get my chores done.”
That idea gave birth to Ransomly, an app that, when installed, sends a signal to the colorful, stone-shaped beacon that can be placed anywhere you want a phone-free zone. The beacon then locks up home screens of Android phones within range. Because of Apple’s restrictions that prohibit devices from blocking access to apps, Ransomly politely tells iOS users to put away their phones.
“The idea is to create a space that encourages healthier relationships,” Zack explains.
Zack, who earned a master’s of applied positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, says the app is the perfect addition to a family dinner table—or wherever you want to create a space to connect with your loved ones.
“Anytime your phone buzzes or pings, or you look at the screen, it interrupts everything. It takes some of your bandwidth and you never really have full downtime,” he says. “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.”
See more at Ransomly.com.