“My child is not going to have electrical devices at the dinner table”
We’ve all been there right?
Sitting in a pub or restaurant with our small bundle of delight who is more than happy with cuddles and maybe a rattle.
Across the way we see a four year old, head firmly in a phone or tablet and we put our judgey pants on.
Fast forward three years and it’s your child sat there with the technology in his little mitts whilst someone over there puts their judgey pants on.
Aoife was always happy with a book or some colouring so tech at the table wasn’t an issue with her.
If we are having an impromptu meal out she is happy to sit and chat or play eye-spy.
Seth on the other hand.
If we’re prepared he will play with his vehicles or whatever but if we have forgotten his trucks he will not sit still.
He doesn’t do conversation or games, he will climb all over the place, try to get away and refuse to sit nicely.
Unless a phone comes out.
It used to be that looking at photos was enough to placate him but not any more.
Now it has to be YouTube or Cbeebies.
I am torn because on the one hand if it keeps the child from getting bored so they don’t disturb others then fine. Should it be the automatic go to?
If the child is old enough to reason with then shouldn’t we be aiming for conversation?
I still hold the romantic notion that meal time is sacred family time.
A time to sit down with no distractions and catch up, talk about what’s going on in our lives and for us, a meal at home is just that.
A meal out holds slightly different rules though.
It’s still a lovely time to catch up but other people are sharing your space and deserve to have a meal in peace too.
If letting your child play on a phone until the meal arrives ensures that they aren’t running around causing mayhem then that’s OK.
What about when they child is old enough to know better?
Old enough to sit and have conversation without kicking off because they are bored?
Should technology at the table be OK then?
When Rory and I were in London a few weeks ago, we were in a restaurant and a family walked in.
Mum, Dad and daughters who were maybe 12-14.
They all sat at their table.
The dad then went to sit at a different table.
He was face timing or something and ate his meal away from his family.
At the table the Mum was on her phone with her headphones in and checking out Facebook and the two girls were on their phones.
Their meal arrived.
They didn’t put their phones down to eat.
They ate with one hand and held their phones with the other.
Watching one of them trying to eat a BBQ chicken wing propped on a fork was a delight.
I was mildly impressed at the skills.
The only speaking was one daughter showing the other something on her phone.
It seemed really sad that having gone out to enjoy a meal as a family they may as well have all gone out separately.
We didn’t have this issue when I was a child.
Is that because the mobile phone hadn’t been invented or because we weren’t taken out to eat as much?
Did we just behave better in the olden days?
I can’t decide if my issue is more with technology at the dinner table or the lost art of communication at meal time.
Has one led directly to the other?
Obviously taking photos to Instagram our meals isn’t included in this debate…