Dubai McDonald’s outlets in the UAE are distributing phone ‘vaults’ — or phone-sized containers with adhesive closures — to families to encourage them to put away their mobile phones and spend quality time with each other.

The move is part of a nationwide campaign called ‘A Day Offline’ being marked at all 109 McDonald’s outlets on September 28.

“This is a continuation of our Family Time Forever campaign launched last year and we have resolved to make this an annual initiative to highlight the importance of uninterrupted family time,” said Rafic Fakih, Managing Director and Partner of McDonald’s UAE.

He said distribution of the phone vaults is a step to encourage family members to resist the temptation of using their cell phones during family time. A range of family activities has also been planned for September 28. Wish lists are also being distributed to children so they can specify what they would like to do with their parents.

The wishes include visits to the zoo, creation of family scrapbooks, hug time, tickling sessions and the like.

Dr Eman Al Amari, family and marriage clinical psychologist at Art of Marriage and Family Therapy, said: “Not only are these devices hazardous to our health, there is also a social cost associated with excessive use of technology. Spending too much time on cell phones, computers or in front of video games comes at the expense of human contact, an essential part of our lives.”

She said: “Being in constant contact with other people through the use of technological devices can be a great source of stress, and not allow for enough privacy.”