The Commotion Around Our Table While Dinning Out: Warning May Be Controversial

The Commotion Around Our Table While Dinning Out: Warning May Be Controversial

I know what I am about to write may be controversial to some.  I also understand that this is an extreme scene that I witnessed. But it got me thinking about this very common occurrence each and every day. 
It is a rainy Saturday afternoon and you and your family decide to get a quick bite to eat. You go to one of your favorite Pho restaurants and can’t wait to have a great lunch together.  You sit at your table and begin to look over the menu only to hear loud noises radiating through the small restaurant.  You begin to look around to see what is going on. You quickly notice there is another table on the other side of the restaurant with two kids and a mom sitting in the booth.  The kids are talking loudly and on the other end there is a loud male voice booming from the iPhone. Then you look over your shoulder again to see they are face timing one another in the booth.  Oh how sweet they are face timing their father I think, then I think but why is it so loud, why would they have the volume up so loud that we can all hear every word they are saying in their conversation.
We continue to order and try to ignore the loud distraction on the other side of the restaurant. Finally the call ends and I find myself sighing out of relief, I just wanted to eat a nice lunch and chat with my family.  Soon our warm food arrives at the table while another family sits down in the booth right next to us.  We continue to eat when I then hear a constant shooting noise coming from the booth next to us.  I look over my bowl of hot steaming pho soup to find a little girl on her iPod playing a game, with the volume set on high. (ping, ping, ping) The mother is smiling watching her daughter play the loud game. The dad and grandfather all watch with amusement.  I am shocked at this point and thinking what is happening to our culture and what are we teaching our kids? If you are going to play a game or face time with someone at least be respectful and quiet about it? (Right? Or is it just me, that is bothered?) 
 Finally we can’t take it anymore… the constant shooting noises every three seconds. My husband politely asks nicely “Can you please turn it down?” the mom looked surprised we would even ask. I am looking at her thinking…“Why didn’t you get it first, to have your daughter play the game on low, or not at all.” 
So after lunch and on the ride home it got me thinking about how us adults are modeling good behavior for our kids. 
Technology is everywhere; don’t get me wrong I love my iPhone and all my social media outlets. My kids love their gadgets as well. I also understand that all of these iPhones, iPads and iPods are still kind of new to our society with rules still needing to be in put in place.

What I See When I Am Eating Out:
So what are the guidelines while out in a restaurant?  This is what I see every time I got out, maybe not like my experience this past Saturday but for the most part this is becoming a common occurrence:
1.     Kids watching T.V. or cartoons via iPad/hand held device while at the table
2.     Kids texting and ignoring their family or friends while eating
3.     Parents starring at their iPhones while their kids sit across from them
4.     Kids playing games at the table
5.     The whole family on their devises
There are no rules no culture clues around this topic. I guess more and more we are implementing rules.  At the doctor offices or dentist I am seeing more and more “Cell Phone Free Area”
But as a parent of four kids I think about this a lot. Manners, and how my actions will affect my kids for the rest of their lives. For example tex Technology will continue to change our society; there is no denying it. For the most part it has created so many open doors to new and exciting things.  On the other hand it is creating a disconnect and I see it when I am at restaurants the most.

I wonder can we not unplug for forty minutes while we eat together as either friends or with our family? As parents if we are disconnected and focused on our devices so then will our kids be when they are old enough to own them.  Our kids grow fast, that little baby who is starring at a flashing screen will one day be walking up to a stage to get their high school diploma before you know it. That same baby will be packing up and leaving home soon after and starting a life of his or her own.
Why miss anything while we still have them living under our roof?  Yes I love my devices, I take photos sometimes of my food or my kids eating sometimes. But then I put my phone away and I am focused and engaged in my family.
Our Family Rules While Out In A Restaurant:
1.     Kids leave their devices in the car
2.     Parents are not on their phone EXCEPT:
a.     Looking up a fact during a conversation (technology is awesome)
b.     Checking the calendar or time if we are heading somewhere next
c.      Taking a silly photo of whatever is going on
d.  If we get a phone call we step outside so no one is disrupted by the noise, but we have even been putting our phones away so we can be fully with our kids, as well as set the example now that three of our four kids have devises of some sort. 
I decided to write about this topic not because I believe I am doing it just perfectly or I know what is best about restaurant manners and devises. I am writing this because of what I see every time I go out.  I also know my kids are growing faster than I ever realized was possible.  With pre-teens and a teenager in the house I also have a responsibility engage with them as much as possible.  Dinning out with our family is a time to connect, to ask questions to find out their hopes and dreams; I don’t want it to be a time that we all just tune each other out.
There are times in our house that we all tune out. I will not lie, we each have time to chill out, play online games, and watch a movie on the iPad. We are a very pro-technology kind of family, but not a pro- technology over dinner kind of family. Now I am guilty of this, and I am going to work on it. I am especially guilty in large groups with friends. Watching others disconnect from each other this past Saturday reminded me that my time with friends and family is way more important than checking my newest email, or facebook notification, because you know what? It will be there after the meal. 

Maybe I am not the norm; maybe my family is not the norm. It is the question I am posing and why I choose to write about my experience this past Saturday.  What are your thoughts? Am I way off base here? Have you ever thought about the example you are setting in front of your kids with our favorite devises? We are going to blink and we will only have our devises to stare out, because our house will be silent, empty and we will no longer have the opportunity to connect on a daily basis with our kids over meals.  I encourage you to unplug and be in the moment, enjoy those few moments we really have left with our kids. Even if your child is tiny now, you will blink and realize you are an empty nester, only longing for those days at the dinner table with your family. 

Comment ( 1 )

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