Surprising Ways Cell Phones Are Ruining Family Dinners

electronica at dinner
The 4th Horse of the Apocalypse: A Laptop at the Table
My fellow modern people, it's time for us to get a grip. Or rather, it's time to loosen our grip. The smartphones are taking over and they're turning us into anti-social jerks. I've decided it's time to take a stand, no exceptions: electronic devices do not belong at the table.

I confess, I've been guilty of Smartphone Crimes Against Dining. I've whipped out my phone in order to look up a fish dish on my Seafood Watch app. I've delayed giving my order so I could finish checking into a restaurant on fourquare. And yes, I have even photographed my dessert.

What finally turned me was seeing my 7-year-old playing games on my iPhone while we ponder the menus, wait for our dishes, even when he's supposed to be eating. I see what a zombie this turns him into -- a rude zombie.


There are plenty of reasons not to bring your Android with you to the table.

It's rude. If you're playing with your smartphone, you're ignoring the people with you. I've tried to maintain eye contact with my dining companions while typing on Facebook and I'm here to tell you, unless you have chameleon eyes, it's impossible. I think it's rude even if you say "pardon me a moment while I photograph this enormous bowl of mussels and send it to my 10,000 followers on Twitter." And it's especially rude if the waiter has to wait for you to finish a text before you'll acknowledge his presence and give your order.

It's distracting. Dining out is supposed to be a pleasure. You're eating delicious (hopefully) food someone else cooked for you with people whose company you enjoy, or with family members you love. You should be present for all of this and relishing every moment. Your kids need to learn how to do this as well. If you let them doodle on the handheld gaming device, you deprive them of this learning experience. You're enabling them to grow up into those socially inept losers who grunt instead of speaking, cannot make eye contact, and shovel food into their gaping maws instead of tasting.

It's dirty. If you're constantly handling that thing, it's being exposed to all kinds of cooties. You're holding the handrail at the mall and then calling your friend, pushing a shopping cart and then checking your grocery list, working out at the gym and picking out your favorite playlist. You really shouldn't be touching your smartphone just before you eat.

It's deeply uncool. Just a few short years ago, smartphones, iPods, and the like were brand-spankin' new and people who had them got to feel like hot shots whipping them out and poking at them in public. iPhones were almost the phone equivalent of driving a shiny new BMW. It was obnoxious to flash your iPhone gratuitously then. Now it's just laughable. Millions of people have them now. You're not special if you have a little electronic thingy that plays music, calls your mommy, and wipes your nose. Know what's exclusive and luxurious now? Being inaccessible. Leaving the phone at home.

Leaving the phone at home ... maybe I'm not quite ready for that luxury. But I think I can take leaving it in my handbag, at least.

Do you let your kids play with your phone at the dining table? Are they turning into rude zombies?

Image via jencu/Flickr

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