I Let My Kid Play With My iPhone in Restaurants & I'll Never Stop

Rant 33

boy at restaurantAs 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

behavior, ipad, iphone, eating out, restaurants


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peanu... peanutsmommy1

nope, I don't. I agree with the Today show report 100%. we went out to eat and watched 2 kids and 2 parents ignore each other through the entire meal while they all had their noses in a device of one kind or another. I refuse to be that family

nonmember avatar Jessie

I don't think there is anythng wrong with that. My mom always brought something for us to do in restaurants...coloring book and crayons or an activity book (crossword puzzles, etc). It made it a much more pleasant experience for all of us!

nonmember avatar Jessie

I should add though that the coloring book or whatever she brought was only for the waiting period between ordering the meal and the food arriving. After that, it was put away.

nonmember avatar Sarah

We let our 4 year old play with our phones once he is finished eating if my husband and I are not done, however playing with the phones is a privledge that can be denied if we had bad week at school.

B1Bomber B1Bomber

Having something to distract kids while waiting for the food is good parenting. There is no difference between that something being the peg game at Cracker Barrel or the old iPhone that my 18 month old uses to play fish pond and dance to the music.

When the food comes, all the toys get put away and we chat and eat together.

nonmember avatar Michelle

You, Mary, are as screwed in the head as the rest of parents who think its OK to let technology "parent" you child. Coloring books, etc. in a restaurant? Completely OK. But what social skills is your child kearning glued to your iPhone?!? I am certain you are from a generation that was raised without this crap, and guess what?!? Parents got creative! They didn't put a movie on in the minivan for 3 hours--we read books, played "road games", listened to music...if you want family time in a restaurant, HAVE family time. But if you are that desperate for time with your husband, hire a sitter. BTW, i have zero problem with iPhones, iPads, and TV watching. I DO have a problem when parents like you make bullshit excuses for using them during a meal. Inexcusable.

jessa... jessasmamma

I get what you're saying, but I disagree. Completely. If I need a babysitter for my daughter, I get one. I don't employ my phone to keep her busy so that I can have "one on one" time with anyone. Kids spend a ridiculous amount of time using electronics nowadays. I'm surprised they know how to function without an iphone or ipad permanently glued to their hand. It's ridiculous. How about some quality one on one time with your child? I'm not talking about having a conversation. I'm talking about playing tic tac toe or I spy. How about doing something that doesn't require your son to completely zone out from reality so that you can get your 10 minutes of "reconnect" time? You should find a different time to have your 'reconnect' time. Like after your child is in bed. Or on date night. Or whenever you choose really. But handing over your phone so that you can basically ignore your child and focus on someone/something else? Inexcusable in my opinion and honestly, lazy parenting. 

jessa... jessasmamma

Also - side note, I have been a server in a few different restaurants. Nothing drives me more insane than lazy parents who completely ignore their child. Whether your child is running around bothering other guests or is completely zoned out and unable to do anything but stare into a phone, it's weird and rude. Just like you or me sitting at a table and texting during the entire meal is rude, a child on a phone is rude too. Put the phone away for 45 minutes or however long. Whatever happened to etiquette?

nonmember avatar Stephanie


chech... chechimansmama

So how is a coloring book suppose to teach them social skills @Michelle? It isn't any different from a phone or tablet. It's suppose to work as entertainment and as a "buyer" of time. When we go out to eat, my son always expects a crayons and a sheet of paper. Lol. This is what he uses while the food comes. Because by the time the food comes he has already scribbled every inch of paper and is non-useable afterwards. Dad, he and I talk, but after he is finished*, finished being a key word, he is allowed to play with his innotab so mom and did can have extra conversation time. He is 3 yrs old so one can only expect him to sit without doing anything for so long before he starts fidgeting and asking to leave. Restaurant time isn't the ONLY family time we have.

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