Do you feel as though the days when families spent time together around the dinner table are over? Even if you manage to get everyone together for a meal, they may all be too focused on their smartphones and devices to actually pay attention to one another.
Don’t worry if this sounds like your family. You aren’t alone. Families today are busier than ever. It makes sense that family members may be prone to distraction during those rare dinners where everyone is at the table.
Still, the fact that this is common doesn’t mean it’s okay. You still want to make a point of discouraging tech use at the dinner table. The following are key reasons why:
It’s Good for Everyone’s Mental Health
You want all members of your family to lead happy and healthy lives. That involves taking steps to optimize their mental health.
Interacting with each other at the dinner table should be one of those steps. Research has shown that social connections guard against mental health conditions later in life. Best of all, those social connections don’t need to merely come in the form of traditional friendships. Spending time with family members is also valuable. Additionally, if you have young children, speaking with them during meals gives them opportunities to develop basic social and communication skills in a safe environment.
Phones Impact the Quality of Conversations
Simply putting away the phone at dinner isn’t enough for your family to truly connect. For the best results, you should keep tech gadgets in other rooms during meals.
Again, research confirms it. One recent study indicates that the mere presence of a phone can have a negative impact on the quality of a conversation.
This might not come as a surprise. When your phone is in your pocket, you might feel the urge to check it from time to time. This prevents you from thoroughly focusing on the people with whom you are actually speaking. On the other hand, when the phone isn’t available, you can relax into the moment more easily. The same goes for your family members.
They Also Impact the Quality of Relationships
When asking your kids or spouse to put their phones away at dinner, remember to model good behavior. You might also occasionally take out the phone at moments when you should be focusing on them. Try to avoid this!
This could have a very negative impact on your overall relationship with other family members. Surveys reveal that approximately 90% of people feel loved ones neglect them to some degree on a weekly basis because they are distracted by technology. This adds tension to family relationships.
Luckily, avoiding this tension is as easy as sitting down for technology-free meals whenever you have the opportunity. Can it be difficult to convince everyone in the family to put away their devices at dinner? Sure, but if you make this a priority, you and your loved ones will enjoy major long-term benefits.