Plugged In

www.ivillage.ca

Dave and  went out to dinner last night at a family chain restaurant.  At the table next to us was a father and his two sons (or son and a friend perhaps) who looked to be about 10 years old. The dad was on his iphone from the moment their name was called, until the server brought out their drinks (each of the boys had two sodas–a Pepsi and a Sierra Mist–brought out at the same time. But, that’s a whole other post)  At first I thought “ugh that was rude” but figured maybe it was his wife calling to check in on her boys or something.

When the dad got off the phone,  then handed an ipad to one of the boys, and then made another phone call.  So now the dad is on the phone and the kids are playing a game on the ipad.  “OK, maybe they will put everything away when the food comes out.” I thought.  Their food came out, the dad told the kid holding the ipad to stop playing, but not because the food was there, but because it was the other kids turn to play!  He then handed the now media-free kid his iphone to watch youtube videos on.  Dad ate his dinner. the iphone rang, he took the call, the kids ate bites of food between shooting zombies and youtubing. And then they left. There wasn’t any conversations, nobody enjoyed their food, I’m not even sure they’d have a clue what they were eating.

I found this whole thing sad and disturbing.  I remember going to dinner with my family as a child.  Of course this was long before cell phones, but, I wasn’t allowed to bring my Nintendo GameBoy, or Sega Game Gear with me to a restaurant.  Dinner out was a special treat, a time to enjoy each others company in a different, sometimes fun, sometimes fancy place. We talked to each other, we laughed, we enjoyed our meal (most of the time) It was QUALITY time.

What is going on with our society that it’s ok for kids to be playing video games, and dads to be on their cell phones all throughout dinner? What happened to talking to each other?  I admit, I am  guilty of checking my phone, or facebook while out at dinner, but I do not take phone calls, my ringer is off.  The phone goes away when the food comes out, and if it’s a fancy dinner, the phone doesn’t come out at all.

Ive heard parents say things like “It’s the only way I can get him to be quiet at dinner”  And I think, “you must have started that habit.”   I know everyone will say “Oh you have no idea, just wait til you have a screaming 3 year old, you’ll hand over the iphone just to get them to be quiet”  In reality, I think I’ll just do what my parents did if I threw a tantrum, we’ll go outside.  I don’t want to teach Avery that a restaurant or the dinner table is a place for us to plug in to our electronic devices.  I want to teach her that it’s a place where we plug in to each other.

5 comments

  1. Michelle says:

    I’ll be honest .. I’ve let my guys bring their iPod/Pad to dinner (not at home) but I take them away when dinner arrives. When they were younger, I used to bring a portable DVD player along to keep them quiet while we waited for dinner (not an easy task especially when you have 2 little ones and I also knew they got real antsy while waiting for dinner0. But now they are older and I guess I let them bring them along because it keeps them satisfied. I really never thought much about it. I’m guilty too of checking my Facebook and playing games while waiting for dinner.
    We do have lots of conversation at dinner time though .. but you’re right .. just like when I was young .. the tv was OFF during dinner .. that should apply to our little gadgets as well.

    • Sarah says:

      Michelle–I totally understand that sometimes you need something to get kiddos to settle down, and quiet down. (especially with twins) And its one thing to check phones, play games BEFORE dinner. It bothers me when it happens throughout the entire meal, and nobody is talking.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I am so with you on that. Our girls have been going out to eat with us since day one. We always brought small toys or books when they were little and then as they got older we would bring crayons and coloring books but we still talk and interact with each other. We are lucky enough to all sit down together at dinner and we go around the table and talk about what we did that day. I find it cute that even if we have company or my parents come for dinner our girls will ask everyone how their day was and what they did. Its something I remember that even if we all couldn’t be at dinner at the sametime who ever was home sat together and talked about how things were.

    I hate when people talk on their phones out to eat and when kids are playing electronics at meals. What happened to plugging into each other. No wonder why so many of our children are having problems socializing face to face with others.

    Avery is one lucky little girl. Keep up the post. Love them and love to know I am not alone on my thinking.

    Jen

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks for reading Jennifer!
      I truly believe it’s so important to eat dinner together as a family, and to make it count. For a lot of families that is really the only time they are together. Between jobs, kids sports and other activities. It just “irks” me to see what I look at as “quality time” wasted because they’d rather play a game than engage in conversations. I love that your family takes it so seriously and that the kids even ask dinner guests about their day!!

  3. When the Kids Go To Bed says:

    I couldnt agree more! I have three little boys and they are not allowed any devices at the table. ESPECIALLY at a restaurant. I can’t stand having dinner with a friend and they are constantly looking at their phone and taking calls and texting. Drives me nuts. It’s rude! If it’s something important, excuse yourself and leave the table to take the call.

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