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.