If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to limit screen time around the family dinner table, the mobile application Moment can now help. The app, which previously focused on alerting smartphone owners to how much time they’ve spent staring at their phone, has introduced an update that turns Moment into more of a family application. Family members can track each others’ daily phone use from their device and start “screen-free” timed sessions which trigger loud alerts when anyone picks up their phone.
You may recall reading about the Moment app earlier this year when it introduced a well-designed and practical tool for anyone interested in limiting their smartphone usage. Created by developer Kevin Holesh, Moment allows you to set a daily limit for minutes spent on your smartphone, then runs in the background, alerting you when you go over that limit with a notification and sound.
Most people don’t realize how much time they spend on their phone, Holesh said at the time.
When he asked people to guess how much time they were on their devices, their estimates were almost always 50% too low. He also experienced the problem himself when his own digital addictions began affecting his real-world relationships, and he realized that he had started using his iPhone to unwind instead of doing fun and productive things.
After the app’s launch, others like it followed, including Checky, for example, which tracked how often users checked their phone throughout the day.
Holesh says that after his app’s release, a number of parents wrote to say how much Moment helped them manage their kids’ screen time. This led him to realize that smartphone addiction can be better solved when the entire family works together to combat the problem.
With the introduction of Moment 2.0, out now, the app has been redesigned to include features that better support families. Users can view the daily phone use patterns for other family members’ devices, and anyone in the family can configure a “family dinner time” mode. This hour-long session encourages users to put their phones down – and leave them down – during dinner time. Anyone who breaks the rule will hear a loud alert until they put their phone back down.
No more texting under the table, kids?
The alert options are funny, too. In addition to more standard alert sounds like a buzzer or alarm clock, there are annoying options like a siren, thunder, or the “most annoying sound ever” from “Dumb & Dumber,” for example.
What’s also clever is that the “family dinner time” is not introduced as a strict “parental control”- type tool. Instead, anyone in the family can turn on family dinner time – making it more of group effort where everyone agrees to change their behavior, rather than mom or dad punishing kids with a “no phone” rule.
Moment has been download over 1 million times, Holesh says, indicating there is interest in applications like this that can help us address our digital addictions. Currently, the app has around 200,000 active monthly users. Those numbers are on the rise, too, now that the app dropped its price from $4.99 to free just a few days ago. Today, users can instead opt to pay $2 per month via an in-app purchase for the family features.
Moment is now being installed around 10,000 times per day, thanks to going free.
The app also demonstrates decent retention among those who’ve installed it – again, indicating there is a segment of the smartphone market who do feel like they’ve become overly attached to their portable devices. About 1 out of every 5 people who have ever installed Moment have used in the past week, Holesh reports.
Moment is free on iTunes, with the option to pay either $3.99 for 3 months of the family service, or $19.99 for a year. In addition to the family dinner time mode and ability to view usage trends, the family service also lets you enforce limits on daily usage. Users can’t entirely “force quit” the app once installed and running, either (by swiping up from the multitasking menu) – the app will resume tracking when you move to a new location.
However, the app can’t be used as a standalone solution for parents setting household rules around screen time. Instead, parents looking for a tougher means of limiting usage will need to also enable parental controls, plus restrict app deletions and the ability to change background app refresh behavior, for starters, in addition to the configurations made in Moment.