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Manner Monday: Technology at the Table



10 Things You Won't Believe You Haven't Taught Your Kids

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This past week we went out for pizza with two other families. I was absolutely shocked at the family who sat down next to us. So shocked, that I was trying to figure out how to take a picture to post with this but could not figure out how to do it without offending. So, let me describe the picture for you: Mom, Dad and their two children, who I would have guessed to be 2nd and 4th graders. As soon as they sat down in the booth, they all immediately pulled out their devices: Mom = Kindle, Dad = iphone, both children = DS playstations. All four appeared happily captivated by the technology in their hands.

My heart was hurting for this family: what a great opportunity the mom and dad had to look into the eyes of their children and learn about their day, to show how much they are loved and appreciated by just listening and talking with one another. Instead, they chose to spend that precious time with their technology.

I have NO idea what goes on in the life of this family on a regular basis, but I’m seeing this scenario play out more and more than I care to actually think about. How are these children going to learn to carry on a conversation at the dinner table? When these children have a problem how are they going to know how to talk about it? Down the road, how are they going to be able to communicate with a potential spouse, or even in the world of business? I’m not saying communication at the dinner table solves all of these issues, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts on “technology at the table”.

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  1. Carey Sue,

    An example of how technology separates us instead of bringing us together. It should never be a sustitue for face to face communication.

    ~Karen Hickman

  2. Joe Tesiram says:

    It is a pity that we are witnessing this more and more in our society. I am proud to say my family sits down to the dinner table as a family 6-7 nights a week. My family is also involved in the digital age, but we maintain that we do not use any of our devices at the dinner table. We actually removed the television from our house during the past 12 months – best move of our lives.
    I also do not have any qualms about asking guests to put away their cell phones while they are visiting with us. I dislike it when you are chatting with someone and they are texting. How much of what I am saying are they hearing or better listening to.
    Let us communicate face to face and have a genuine interest in the other persons day.

  3. Matt Draelos says:

    Thanks for the good word Carey Sue. You’re right on the mark.

  4. Audra Brown says:

    completely agree!

  5. Loreen Mall says:

    Agree. Will also pay more attention about where we sit in some places from now on. It seems some adults (although they might be half-heartedly listening) can’t keep their eyes off the televisions in some restaraunts. Sad when your adult child is engaged in conversation about life choices and decisions, and only one of the parents (step-parent in this case) is actively participating (even after it was gently asked to correct the issue).

    I think I will go for a no-television rule for eating in restaraunts – just like we do at home (unless we are going somewhere to specifically watch a game in public)…. Technology is definitely a distraction from relationship-building during mealtime.

    Thanks for your posts, Carey Sue!

  6. Elle says:

    We have a “no cell phones at the table” rule that we follow all the time – no matter which meal of the day it is, or where we’re having it. We have busy lives and don’t get to see each other a lot, like most other families, so the 20 or minutes that we spend at the table together is just for us to focus on each other.

    That said, we have a two year old who gets restless if we’re going out to dinner at a restaurant. IF he is starting to get unruly, loud, or too restless I will pull out my phone with one of his QUIET kids apps to entertain him. Usually the volume is so low that I’m not even sure if he can hear it – but it keeps him occupied and is not disruptive of others.

    However, I feel like school age children should not be allowed to have electronics (or any toys) at the table. They are old enough to contribute to conversation, and the parents should make sure to have a few topics at hand that their kids want to talk about (even if it bores the parents to death) so that the kids WANT to be a part of the family dinner instead of just wanting to escape to their video games.

  7. Gina Hope says:

    I can’t agree with this more. We turn the TV and any “music” off during supper. We go around the table and share our day. We practice this if we are eating out as well. It’s been tough to stand my ground when we have guests, but stand it I have and asked that the cell phones be put away for our meal. The rest of my family members now do the same and ask our guests to refrain. Unfortunately, I see us QUICKLY becoming the minority.

  8. Jane Pulley says:

    For the most part I agree with what you feel about family dinner time. On the other side, I will say – I don’t use babysitters, so every where I go, my son goes. Sometimes I will go to a dinner with adults. My son is well behaved in public and will sit politely during dinner. It is after dinner when my friends and I will sit and converse for what must seem endless to my son. It is at that time it is nice for him to have his PSP or what other technology he has, that he continues to sit politely, and humors himself with his games. The PSP comes in handy.
    As in life – moderation and appropriate timing is everything.

  9. Lisa McConnell says:

    The key with this is poorly managed technology. It can be rude and can interfere with relationships. But managing technology is essential to our success in this world- and holding a job. The number one complaint of new hires is “They won’t get off their phone!”
    Children must be taught to manage their time and their priorities – and they learn that from us. Part of this is about setting parameters and rules for them to follow – that they must enforce with their friends. We live in an instantaneous world and we want immediate results and responses. Children know this and expect an immediate response from one another.
    They need to post “At dinner/movies/with family, etc” and friends will know they are off-line. Putting the phone down is a show of respect to the people they are with- they are giving them their full, undivided attention.

  10. Lisa McConnell says:

    Also, if we push our children to set parameters and preach being respectful of the people around them, then how do they handle an interruptive call or text from us when they are with their friends? Again, this should be part of the rules on behavior that is agreed to by families.

    I found this article that has family guidelines and an agreement:

  11. Mary Delafield says:

    I absolutely agree with you that this is out of control. In our family of teen boys and college daughter, there are five iPhones to contend with. Thank you Lisa for the family media agreement. I miss conversations!

  12. GREAT comments and feedback! Thank you everyone for your comments. LOVE the agreement Lisa. That is genius!

  13. Imogene Fowler says:

    Love it….
    Great Sign for eating establishments….No Smoking
    No Cell Phones…
    Sad to say…..
    They probably would not be in business very long….

  14. Aunt Linda says:

    Awesome Monday Manners!

  15. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

    1. Thank you for the kind words Staci. I will jump over to your blog and check it out!

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10 Things You Won't Believe You Haven't Taught Your Kids

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