I wholeheartedly approve of this bar/restaurant game described in Kempt:
It works like this: as you arrive, each person places their phone facedown in the center of the table. (If you’re feeling theatrical, you can go for a stack like this one, but it’s not required.) As the meal goes on, you’ll hear various texts and emails arriving… and you’ll do absolutely nothing. You’ll face temptation—maybe even a few involuntary reaches toward the middle of the table—but you’ll be bound by the single, all-important rule of the phone stack.
Whoever picks up their phone is footing the bill.
It’s a brilliant piece of social engineering, masquerading as a bar game. It takes the phone out of the pocket—where you can sneak a glance and hope nobody notices—and places it in the center of attention at all times. Suddenly, picking up your phone is the big deal you always secretly knew it was. And more importantly, it comes with consequences.
But if, after the third ring, you decide your call is more important than your lunch tab, we’re sure your friends won’t object.
I’m as addicted to the screen as many of us, but I also feel strongly that technology will never replace face-to-face communication. When you are fortunate enough to be in a situation where you are breaking bread with friends, you should not be worried about something that can almost certainly wait an hour until you are finished. I do love games, too, and this has clear purpose, consequences, teamwork, competition, and of course obstacles. Now the tough part: getting people to agree to play.