Dear Dr. Bill,
I provide day-care services for several families in our community and I’ve had opportunities to share the evening meal with them. I’m often surprised by how disruptive technology can be at dinner time.
During the course of a recent meal, ringing phones were immediately answered. Text messages were constantly being sent and received. The children left the table several times to play videogames.
I don't mean to be critical of this particular family, but I can't help but wonder how frequently this behavior is repeated in other homes. What do you think?
I think your concerns are right on target. Unfortunately, the “tech at the dinner table” practice is all too common in our country, and it’s wreaking havoc on family communication and togetherness.
For years now, researchers at Columbia University have been singing the praises of family meals. They’ve found that kids from families who eat dinner together five nights per week are more likely to succeed in school and have positive relationship with their parents and their peers.
They’re also less likely to use drugs and alcohol, be depressed, get involved in criminal behavior, you name it.
However, the researchers also found that if parents or kids are using technology at the dinner table, family meals provide little or NO protective factor.
So, my advice to every family is DISCONNECT FROM TECH at dinner! Don’t allow smart phones or video games at the table, let the answering machine take calls during dinner, and for goodness sake, TURN OFF THE TV!
Thanks for writing Marie. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click on the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.