Not to long ago I was conducting a professional table manners program for a college conference. As I was speaking, I noticed that many students had their phones out on the table and often it was on the plate in front of them before the food was served.
I thought this very interesting as the topic was how to dine in business and the name of the program was the “Million Dollar Meal.” I asked the people in the room if they were at an interview or a business meeting over a meal, would they have their cell phone out on the table? As they put their phones away, I would like to think that their answer would be no without someone having to ask them….but I am learning that just the basics are needed more and more.
Often while dining out with my husband, we see families sitting together, but not engaged in conversation with each other. The children are often on their gaming devices, or listening to music with earbuds in their ears while the parents may be talking, and often not to each other. They are often communicating by way of text or cell phones to people not at the table. I am saddened to think this may be the new definition of family time.
Technology is wonderful, but it should have its limits. Statistics show that teens spend between 20 to 52 hours every week in front of a computer screen and that does not include entertainment media or the cell phone. The research concluded that all this media exposure was associated with negative social well-being. You really do not grow up in a house with no real communication and become a great communicator. Statistics show the inability to communication well is 80% of the reason people do not get ahead in their jobs and is a common barrier to successful marriages, relationships and careers.
Family dining time is an important time to bond and engage with your children and your spouse. Allow the dining table to be an opportunity to invest time in one another and develop life skills that contribute to success. Just because someone is sitting next to you, does not mean you are spending quality time with that person. Teach your children, teens and young adults to communicate without technology…face to face.
At the dining table consider having them put their cell phones away and get connected with the people at the table. Talk about the day, about events in their lives, feelings, triumphs and failures. This valuable time keeps us from being isolated, lowers depression, conveys love and research shows it is associated with positive social well-being.
Dining has always been a time to build relationships with others, whether that is in business or with family in your own home.
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