shutterstock_158087222I hate cell phones. I despise them. I need a cell phone for work, and I am as guilty as any other person of checking my E-mail throughout the day on it, but I find the act of someone checking their cell phone during a meal as the epitome of rudeness, and I want it to stop. You can leave your ringer on so you can be reached in case of emergency, but if you are checking your text messages or sending an Email or updating your social media status while you are dining with me I will throw the bread basket at your stupid head. No lie.

I’m not the only person who feels being on your smartphone during meals is detrimental to your interactions with humans you are dining with, including your small children, because researchers at Boston Medical Center went undercover in 15 local fast food restaurants to observe parents dining with their children. From ABC News:

Parents in 40 of the 55 families observed were absorbed in their mobile devices, according to the study. They seemed more distracted when they were typing and making swiping motions with the fingers than when making phone calls. And almost a third of the parents used their devices continuously throughout their meal.

Some children appeared unaffected and ate their meals in silence. Other children were more provocative, with one set of siblings singing “Jingle bells, Batman smells” to get their dad’s attention.

“The conclusion I wouldn’t draw from the study, is that we need to completely remove these devices when we are with our children,” she said. “But it does raise the issue that we need to create boundaries for these devices when we are with our children.”

 

DUH. No duh. One of the biggest arguments I have with my own spouse is cell phone usage when we are dining in public or at home. I feel it sets a horrible example for our own children, including my teen son who has his own cell phone. I know my husband has a big important job and he needs to be available at all times, but I still lose my shit when he takes out his cell phone to check something for work when we are eating. Especially when we are eating in public.

If someone needs to check their email then they should excuse themselves and go do it in the restroom or something where I cannot see it. My teenager has ZERO need to check his cell phone at mealtimes, because there is nothing so pressing and urgent that he cannot deal with it after we are done. Nothing annoys me more than when I see entire families at a restaurant together, the majority of members doing whatever on their mobile devices while sitting at a table. Are we that BORING to each other we can’t even have a normal conversation and we would rather play Angry Birds than interact with the people we gave birth to?

When I see parents at places like parks where their kids are off playing on swings or something I see no issue with them being on their cell phones. Same for parents at grocery stores, for all I know they could be checking their shopping list or googling a recipe. But when it comes to going out to eat I think that is one time the phones can remain at home or in glove boxes or purses. Eating out is expensive. It’s an excellent opportunity to talk to your kids about what is going on with them, to gently teach them about table manners, to laugh and reconnect as a family. It’s impossible to do that if you are updating your Facebook status.

I’m sure there are exceptions, like if you have a person dear to you in the hospital on life support and you are checking for status updates, but let’s just assume that if anything major happens you will be alerted by a phone call. I refuse to believe that we live in a world where anything is that pressing we can’t pocket our phones for a one hour meal.

(Image:Robert Kneschke/shutterstock)