App could help tech addicts wean off phone for a day 

A new mobile-phone application is designed to reduce the use of the ubiquitous devices — an irony that is not lost on the people behind the new "Sabbath Manifesto" program.

"Yes, it’s using a high-tech app to tell people you’re having a low-tech day," said Tanya Schevitz, a spokesperson for Reboot Communications who is promoting the app in conjunction with the second annual National Day of Unplugging that goes from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday. "We’re not anti-technology. The idea is to take a pause and reconnect with people lost in this deluge of information."

The Sabbath app lets users post a message to their Facebook and Twitter accounts that they are having a "digital detox," among other stock status updates. The app also promotes 10 principles of Sabbath in the modern world, including avoiding commerce, lighting candles, drinking wine and giving back.

The push to unplug will extend to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, Schevitz said. The museum will offer a $1 discount on Saturday for those who place their phones in one of 600 Sabbath Manifesto "sleeping bags."

"We want people to come and enjoy the museum without the distraction of calls and texting," Schevitz said, adding that technology addiction is a problem that should be addressed as seriously as other dependency issues and the Sabbath app is akin to digital methadone.

Morgan Blum, the director of education at Jewish Family and Children’s Services, said she’s not addicted to technology, but that moderation is key to a happy life.

"I’m going to go on a long bike ride with a friend, and have some lunch," Blum said. "I just look at it as an opportunity."

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Dan Schreiber

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