As much as both my husband and I enjoy cooking meals at home, we also tend to wind up going out to eat at least once or twice a week, if not even more often than that. We both have very busy schedules and he works long hours, so sometimes it just makes more sense for my son and me to meet him out somewhere for dinner rather than to wait for him to make the 45-minute commute home.
And since we go out to eat all the time, our son is no stranger to restaurants, and he knows how to behave when dining with us. But that doesn't mean we expect him to sit there with no source of entertainment other than his charming parents for the entire meal. And that's why we always let him play with one of our iPhones or his Nintendo DS (while wearing headphones, of course) for part of the dinner.
Up until today, I never considered letting him have a little tech time as any sort of a problem.
But after reading an article on Today.com that cited the opinion of a journalist from The Telegraph who thinks kids should NOT use devices in restaurants, I sat here and reevaluated my choice to let our son play to his heart's content.
Henry Yates says it's our job as parents to "resist the temptation" to hand over the iPhone at dinner and adds:
As work’s tentacles encroach on our family time (tentacles facilitated, it has to be said, by on-the-move access to emails), our mealtimes are becoming one of the few isolated chances to really connect with our kids. You know, the old-fashioned stuff: talking to them, listening to them, asking about the school cake sale, humouring their daft little stories punctuated by endless "ums" and "ers". Strengthening your family’s foundations for the buffeting to come.
Huh. He definitely has a point.
But it's not enough to convince me to stop allowing my son to use the iPhone and/or DS as a source of entertainment in restaurants.
Here's the thing -- we talk and listen to our son and have regular conversations with him all the time, but given how busy we are, it's tough for my husband and me to find time to talk to each other.
Sometimes chatting over dinner is the only time we really get to reconnect, so what's the harm in letting our son have some fun playing games while we catch each other up on what is going on in our lives?
Ok, I know what you're going to say next -- hire a babysitter if you want alone time with your husband. Um, that's all well and good and we definitely do that from time to time, but it's also important to us to go out to eat as a family -- even if our son isn't "present" for part of the meal.
Sure, we sit down, order, and talk for a bit with our little guy while waiting for our food to arrive. But after about 15 minutes of chit-chat with his parents, the kid is ready to zone out, relax, and have a little fun. And that's where the gadget comes in. It makes him happy, it makes us happy, and everybody has an enjoyable evening.
And honestly, that's more than good enough for me.
Do you let your child use gadgets in restaurants?
Image via Mary Fischer