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Please, No Phones at Dinner

It is a common scene nowadays to be out at any restaurant and see tables of families and friends starring at there phones. No phones at dinner, please.  I have seen parents with smartphones glued to their hands while the kids are occupied by an I pad. If that is not disturbing enough, in the background screens are blaring everywhere with the latest toxic news, sporting events, and music videos. This environment is overstimulating. I cannot imagine that this is good for our digestion, or for our social skills. Why do we even bother gathering for meals together? Why do we feel the need to continually have a device next to us at the dinner table?

Dinner Table Rules

When I was growing up, we actually had dinner table rules. As strict as that may sound, it was a way my parents insured quality family time. Rule #1 No T.V. at the dinner table! We would each go around the table and talk about our day. As a child, I loathed this. As an adult, I am grateful that my parents enforced this rule. Dinnertime was indeed family time. In Italy, mealtime is one of the most critical parts of the day. Family and friends were often communing for three or four hours at the table. Taking their time and enjoying each others company without the desire to have a phone sitting next to their napkin. Having phones at the table is very poor etiquette.

Pick Up Your Smartphone, and you Pay for My Dinner

A few years ago, I became irritated when going out to eat with my friends. Every time we would sit down to a meal or cocktail, everyone was whipping out their phones. My Friends would immediately start posting their food on Facebook or Instagram. I couldn’t understand why they felt the need to scroll through their social media or check work emails while we were hanging out together. Hello! I am sitting here in front of you excited to be in your company, and you are texting other friends. I had to do something about this. I started telling my friends at the beginning of dinner, that the first person to pull out their phone had to buy for the table. Let the games begin. I never bought dinner once.

Stop Starring at Your Phones and Look at the Menu

Phones at the table have also become a massive problem for restaurant owners. When a server approaches a table during peak hours to take an order, often he or she is ignored because people are too busy staring at their phones and have not even looked at the menu yet. So the server goes to help another table. When the server returns, people dare to complain about the delay in service. They may even take it upon themselves to pull out their smartphones to immediately write a negative review on Yelp or other sites. If you have ever worked in food or beverage, you know that during busy times this can really disrupt the flow. Turning tables quickly is also impossible because people are constantly taking photos of their food.

Device Free Dinner

I was talking to a friend of mine recently who has two teenage sons. I asked her about phones at the table, and if she allowed it. She told me she created a basket that is for phones. Before dinner or family time, all household members must put their phone in the basket. Go, Mom! I really liked this idea. I also love that others are starting to be more mindful of the use of phones or other devices at the table. Some popular hashtags that I have noticed on social media, as ironic as it is are #devicefreedinner and #nophonesatdinner. The movement is beginning, and it makes me happy. Celebrities are endorsing this issue with clever Public Service Announcements. Check out this funny video with Will Ferrell. OPTOFF.

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