Worried about your screen time? These restaurants and hotels will lock your phone up, and some will even pay you for it.

A stock image of a man seen looking at an Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max tin The Hague on March 2, 2020
‘I think it’s even more important than ever that people actually talk to each other and not on Zoom,’ Jimson Bienenstock, president of Hotblack Coffee told Insider. Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • The average US adult spends almost 4 hours on their phone a day and checks it every 12 minutes.
  • After a year on Zoom and TikTok, businesses are creating tech bans and virtual detox discounts.
  • Some hotels have offered discounts on rooms if you lock away your phone and computer.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Walk into any restaurant or coffee shop and you’ll see patrons checking social media, taking pictures of food, and texting at the table. Now, businesses are pushing back against the addiction with creative discounts, phone bans, and boxes for stashing away mobile devices.

Hotblack Coffee in Canada is well known for its intentional lack of WiFi and charging outlets as a way to encourage customers to unplug. The company’s president Jimson Bienenstock told Insider that the pandemic has strengthened Hotblack Coffee’s mission of creating an environment that values person-to-person interaction.

“People have been working from home, and all they do is have their electronics on,” said Bienenstock. The pandemic pushed US adults to spend an extra hour per day on digital activities, with the average user spending over 4 hours daily on their mobile phone. “I think it’s even more important than ever that people actually talk to each other and not on Zoom,” he added.

Hearth, an NYC restaurant with locations in the East Village and Chelsea, places boxes at the center of their tables where diners can lock up their phones, Axios reported on Wednesday.

Sushi Lounge, a family-run restaurant in New Jersey, launched “Reconnect Tuesday” in 2018. The weekly deal offered a 20% discount if you could leave your phone in a box until the check arrived. The initiative hoped to facilitate tech-free conversation among customers, staff told Marketwatch.

An employee at Sushi Lounge told Insider that they stopped offering Reconnect Tuesday and Happy Hour discounts due to the financial toll the pandemic had on the restaurant.

Hotels around the world have offered “digital detox” discounts in recent years, with The James Nomad in New York City offering a 10% discount for every night guests are able to go without their phones. The hotel’s technology-free room doesn’t even include an alarm clock – instead, the package advertises meditation and yoga classes.

Hotel Bellora in Sweden launched a program where the more time guests spent on social media, the more expensive their room would be, Top Hotel News reported.

To keep track, guests connected their phones to a “smart lamp” that measured digital activity. After 30 minutes of screen time, the lamp glowed red, indicating that hotel guests had surpassed the healthy limit of online recreation and would now have to pay full price.

“Unfortunately we no longer have this suite at Bellora, it was only for a special month,” the hotel’s front desk told Insider. “As far as I know, we do not have any plans on doing it again … It was very appreciated by those who enjoyed it, so nothing is impossible.”