UNICEF’s PlayTimer Makes You Focus on Play Instead of Work

An app developed by UNICEF, PlayTimer addresses work/life balance by setting an alarm that goes off when you touch your phone during playtime with your kid.

by Fatherly
Originally Published: 
A dad high-fiving his daughter

If you’re a slave to your boss, you’re probably also a slave to the boss’s digital proxy: your phone. But help is on the way, from UNICEF (of all places). The UN agency tasked with protecting the rights of children wants employers to address the growing challenges of work-life balance in the digital age, and it’s designed a smartphone app — PlayTimer — that forces Proxy Boss to shut up while you’re playing with your kids.

PlayTimer hides calls, emails, and texts for a set period of time, which is initiated by snapping a picture of your kid. For up to an hour, the phone remains dark and an alarm triggers if you touch it. You turn off the alarm, or unlock the phone after the allotted time, by taking another picture of your kid. Presumably, it won’t detect how much more bored the kid looks after 60 minutes with you.

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UNICEF developed PlayTimer after research conducted in Sweden proved that most parents are regularly interrupted during time with their kids by work-related emails and calls. The study may have drawn the most obvious conclusion in the history of studying things, but the result is a simple, free, and effective phone app. That’s more than can be said of France’s recent half-assed attempt to ban work emails outside work hours.

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