It’s no secret that smart phones, tablets and the like have taken over our lives. It’s my hope though that we can all agree to keep one sacred place device-free, and that’s the dinner table! Today’s post is mainly about kids, but parents and other adults – let’s be sure we lead by example here.
My Recent Observation
My family and I went on a spring break trip earlier this month and at our one “fancy” dinner out I couldn’t help but notice what was going on a couple tables down from us. Call me judgmental if you’d like, but this was a beautiful setting in a really special place and both elementary-aged children were plopped down at the table with headphones on and i-pads. Props to the parents for ensuring the use of headphones would not disturb others, BUT as a result – they couldn’t even speak to each other! I can already hear some of the comments now, “What if it was just one special night on vacation and they don’t normally do that?” or “What if the parents were having a really bad day full of their meltdowns and desperately need some peace?”
I TOTALLY hear ya. No, I most certainly don’t have all the information and I do like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But, I can pretty much guarantee that not all the kids I’ve ever seen glued to a device at a restaurant (and this would be A LOT) were due to a rare and special occasion/situation. I think it’s safe to say for some it’s more the norm than the exception. And my big question is this…
Is it too much to ask our children to ditch the distractions and simply learn how to have polite conversation during one meal of the day?
Even little toddlers are old enough to begin to learn and participate in this wonderful pastime! A friend and I were recently joking that apparently we are the “mean” parents that make our kids actually interact with us and maybe do a little coloring when we’re out to dinner. I do also sometimes bring little activities in my purse like hangman or glow sticks, but even with these extras I still feel it does not shut anyone out and, if anything, encourages us to interact with each other. The point is – your children (and you) can still have fun!
Screen Time Is Off The Hook!
I think it’s safe to say children these days are getting plenty of screen time even if they were to take a dinner break. “The Kaiser Family Foundation puts media use among 8- to 18-year-olds at more than 7.5 hours a day.” (Say whaaaat???) Some experts are concerned this can cause a host of issues including low self-esteem and even losing the ability to read nonverbal communication. But I also think it simply makes good common sense to know how to function without your phone in your face and instead to know how to hold a face-to-face conversation. I do believe this is an area where lots of practice can make perfect, and our children need us to teach them how!
If you haven’t seen this video yet, it’s funny – and a good reminder that we’re not alone.
FYI – from what I can tell this is not a real product that’s actually for sale at the moment!
Where Do You Stand?
Do you agree this is a growing issue that needs to stop? What do you do to encourage your children to interact with you (and others) at the dinner table? I’ve heard of some people making a “drop box” where they drop their devices before dinner time so it becomes almost automatic, which sounds like a great idea to me. So how many device-free dinners can you commit to each week going forward?
On a completely different note I want to make sure you know about a wonderful product I love, Molly’s Suds! I love how much cleaner it leaves our clothes compared to store-bought “green” laundry detergents (that aren’t always as good for you or the Earth as they claim). Have you tried it yet? They now have lots of options to choose from including cloth diaper, all sport, and whitener so be sure to check it out – enjoy :)