We were out to breakfast one morning when I noticed two 12-ish girls sitting at their own table, near but not with their family. As they chatted and giggled I realized what was unusual – neither had an electronic device in her hand!
When we go out to eat, most of the kids I see are either using their own phones, or – if they’re really little – their parents’ phones. Or they’re playing on a Nintendo DS. To see two girls looking each other in the eye while they talked and laughed was a nice change.
This may be one of the hardest skills for parents to model, because we’ve become so addicted to our smartphones that we check them every few minutes. But table manners and restaurant etiquette can’t be taught just by talking about them; they have to be practiced.
The next time you take your family to a restaurant, try coming to an agreement before you leave. Maybe phones are okay until the food comes. Or maybe no phones out until after the meal. Or turn it into a competition. . .
Have you heard about how college students will pile their phones in the middle of the table, and the first to give in and look has to pay the bill? In a family, it might be whoever looks first has to do the others’ chores or put money into a family fund. Awareness of the problem is the first step; agreeing on a solution is the second.
The bottom line: technology should never be an excuse for being antisocial.