Monday, February 4, 2013

Restaurants and Cell Phones.

Technology.

Sometimes I love it.  Sometimes I hate it.

It's super convenient, yes, but I also think we're too dependent on it.  We can't escape it since it is literally everywhere we look.  I know it's all part of our evolving world, but I can't help but miss the days where people didn't have their nose in their phone everywhere they went.

The other night we went out to eat and saw a family with four children - ranging from ages 4ish to 12ish.  Every single one of those children were glued to an ipad, ipod or iphone and didn't so much as look up at anyone around them as we all sat in the waiting area or even mumble a word to one another during their dinner together.  I was astounded! And sad.

Where was the conversation?  Where was the laughter?  Where were the memories being made?

When Levi was younger (around 2) and didn't quite have the attention span that he does now, when we were dining in a restaurant and he started to get restless, we'd prop up one of our cell phones and let him watch cartoons.  Partly for our sanity, partly for his sanity, and partly for the sanity of everyone around us.  I don't think you should expect a tiny tot to sit like a perfect angel with no entertainment after a long dinner out - especially if you had to wait for your table ahead of time.  I find nothing wrong it if you're riding it out as long as you can before whipping out the phone (last resort) .... and if they are young enough to *need* the distraction.

Now that Levi older and capable of sitting still and engaging himself in our conversation, we don't like him having the phone at dinners out.  Supper time was always such an important time in my family growing up - where everyone came together at the end of our days and talked.  And I have implemented that into my own little family.  We are strict about it at home - supper at the kitchen table, television off, and lots of conversation encouraged.  Where we all come together and debrief.  It's my favorite time of day.

Levi sometimes asks us for our phone at dinners out if it's running long or if he's getting bored.  Depending on the circumstance, sometimes we let him, sometimes we don't. (I mean, honestly, sometimes it is nice to have a few quiet moments to finish up supper and talk to Husby alone!)

It's a balance, and I feel like if you're not careful, it can get out of control fast.

I know we'll go through the phase with Ezra that he will need that distraction. I'm thankful we have things like this TO distract them with when crayons and games and table top toys just aren't cutting it and people around us are getting irritated.  I just don't want my children to expect instant entertainment at all times and be obsessed with phones like the rest of society seems to be.

(Me included. But, I've made some big changes and a real turn around. That's another blog post of it's own.)

So I gotta know.  Where do you stand on this?  Phones allowed in restaurants?

{I read something last week about some restaurants banning cell phones.  And others offering you to check them at the front and you get a discount on your meal for doing so.  Interesting.}




18 comments:

  1. I think it is just rude to the people you are with. Now if my phone goes off I may glance to make sure it isn't someone important calling. Otherwise, It stays in my purse.

    I wouldn't leave my phone at the front for a discount because with my luck that would be the time someone important would call with an emergency.

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  2. That is crazy/interesting/cool abt restaurants giving a discount if you check your phone. My husband is literally on his phone texting/calls for work so I'm sure ppl think he is being rude but oh well he has to always be available.

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  3. Makes me wonder how parents of 10, 15, or 20 years ago functioned at dinners out. I guess they just shortened the length of dinner or one parent stepped out when their child(ren) misbehaved.

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  4. We were at Poblano this past weekend and did exactly what you mentioned... we were already eating later than normal and had waited for a bit, and Riggins had done great while eating chips and tortillas and most of his entree but we were all still finishing up. Once he started standing up to check out all the patrons around us and resisted my requests for him to sit, I busted out the phone. Our big issue is that if we let him play with any technology (phone, computer, watching tv) too often or for too long, he becomes an absolute bear when it is time to turn it off. I always end up paying for it when I abuse technology with him, so I've learned to reserve it for a special treat and to limit the time.

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  5. I fully admit that I'm saying this as a current non-parent and therefore with no experience, but for now I love the idea of avoiding being on the phone as much as possible. I feel like with humans, things only escalate - so if I'm handing my small child my phone for entertainment, how much will that "need" to be on the phone increase as the child grows older? Every morning I drive by an 8-year-old girl texting at the bus stop. It makes me so sad and a little angry. The tough thing is there's a fine line between "just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean we're going to" and being the "mean" parent who deprives her child of something ALL of the child's peers have. I know that line will be very hard to walk. Also, I don't want to give my kids the message that if they see mommy's phone, it's okay to pick it up and play with it. I want to teach them to respect others' belongings. Who knows? Maybe my views will totally change when I'm a parent and I'll laugh at myself for this, but that's my two cents for now.

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  6. i love this post. i too find it so very sad when kids and parents have their noses glued to a screen and aren't connecting with each other. i'll admit, limiting screen time is a battle at our house with three little ones but it's something we are trying very hard to do. i worry kids aren't going to be able to have a conversation with people face to face when they are older.

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  7. When meals are taking to long to arrive at a restaurant, or when our 1 year old is trying to escape from a high chair we whip out a little Dora the explorer on the iPhone. I've had to use it a few times while shopping solo and it was either that or leave, so I don't feel guilty in those situations :)

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  8. I think the same could be said for adults! We were at a super bowl party last night, and during the "blackout", half the people there were just sitting on their phones, not even talking to each other! Kind of blew my mind. I am on my phone a lot, yes, but technology makes me crazy sometimes.

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  9. Be present! That's our motto in our family. If we are at dinner, we BE at dinner together! We should not be talking to other people or googling or anything else on our gadgets when we are with our family. I have a friend who only has one small child, and she never does any screen time in front of her children. I admire that. They will be what they see. When they are little, it might be keeping them quiet while we are in a restaurant, but they are going to learn that that is the norm, and they will still be doing it when they are teenagers. Not in our house!!!!

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  10. I totally agree with you. We don't own an ipad so we don't even have that option but we do have iphones. We've yet to use them in a restaurant because we dont' want to become dependent on them. I agree on engaging in conversation and making some memories. Playing a game together, talking, maybe snacking a little (we always pack a few snacks to enjoy while we wait). Technology isn't always a good thing.

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  11. Maybe that family was on a road trip and the kids were exhausted, so out came the phones and tablets. We rarely use them in restaurants, but there are always exceptions, and maybe that family was having an "exception" night!

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  12. LOVE THIS POST!
    Dinner time is sacred. Not only is it a time of conversation, laughter and togetherness...it's also a time to teach manners, etc. Using a napkin, saying "excuse me" and "May I be excused?", waiting for everyone to finish before you get up, learning to wait your turn to speak and not yelling across the table...those are just a handful. If my kiddos start to misbehave in the restaurant and have temporary insanity, LOL, I just take them to the bathroom, let them wash their hands or something and remind them of their manners.
    My philosophy is technology is not a babysitter. If it's used right and in small increments a day, I don't see a thing wrong with it.
    But dinner time, it's sacred.

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  13. I agree with you - while they're ok sometimes, these gadgets shouldn't become babysitters. I know this family where the 5-year-old girl has her own iPad. And also there's no limitations with TV time so she watches DVDs all day long and plays with the iPad. You can really see what it's done to her imagination and activeness - she has regular toys too but doesn't seem to know how to play with them because she should use her own imagination. She gets bored of them really fast because they don't do anything and asks for a movie. And it's so sad to see when a friend of hers is over who can also play with her mum's iPad any time she wants - I've seen them play together and all they do is sit on the playroom floor and play with their own iPads. I remember this one day when there was a lot of stuff to do outside and lots of people over, gorgeous weather, lake for swimming and everything, and they just wanted the iPads or watch movies on a laptop - and the parents allow this because that keeps them quiet and they can do adult stuff all day long and don't have to mind the kids.

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  14. My daughter is 4 and we have never ever let her have a phone or iPad at dinner. We go out to eat once a week or once every couple of weeks and have never had to rely on it. We just don't think of it as an option. We make sure she has crayons or small paper back books we can read to her. Honestly we don't allow her to play with phones or iPads at home either. She does watch TV but I'm very anti-video games / technology at that age. They have their whole lives to bury their faces in electronics, I'd like them to have a small portion of their life protected from all that so they can learn proper social behavior and use their imaginations.

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    Replies
    1. Again, totally agree. Endangered Minds by Jane Healy is an excellent book on the effect of technology on children's brain development, and that was before all the iThings.

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  15. No cellphones or electronic devices for the kiddies. All previous generations of kids (and parents) survived at restaurants without them. Also, having a child color to keep them busy is way more beneficial than having them stare at a screen.

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May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)

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