Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Texting/tweeting/facebook during meals?

Whether it is texting, tweeting, facebooking, or any other social media usage on your phone, there may be a time and place for it, but it sure isn't at the dinner table! 
I read an interesting article that talked about how Generation Y is changing social norms when it comes to using  your cell phone at the dinner table. I have a problem with this when it really is a problem. You see I don't exactly have a problem with once in a while checking your phone if there is something important you're waiting to hear about or something but to have it sitting in your lap or in hands at all times at the dinner table is a whole other issue. A lot of times it seems these social media and technology is taking over our lives and controlling us, instead of us controlling it. This article stated that:
"Today, a study from The Hartman Group tells a much different story: around 29 per cent of respondents admitted to having used a social networking site while dining. If you zero in on Millennials (aka Generation Y), the scales tip even further. Nearly half of those polled said they’d used a phone, tablet, or laptop during a meal."
I have been on plenty of dinners with people, and I can tell you for certain that yes people sure do text during meals. I even told them to put their phone away at one point. Not all students, or adults for that matter however did text during the meal but had it out right before and right after sitting down. What can be so important that within 10 minutes as a teenager, you've received something of such critical importance that you needed to check your phone? The likely answer is absolutely nothing! Even as adults we are really guilty of not being good models to children about technology. This always just leads to a larger conversation but maybe that will be another post...
Oh I've heard them all, "My mom/dad/sister/brother is texting me!", "I just need to check this one thing...", "It's not my fault someone is texting me!", "I will only be one second..." and on and on.....blah blah blah blah blah. It seems as though young people do not get the social graces any more, such as how it may feel to that person sitting across from you when you whip out your phone when they're talking to you, or you're talking to them! I sure don't feel needed/wanted/appreciated when that happens to me!
Not only Generation Y....
I guess I need to admit that although this article focuses on Generation Y, the truth is that it is not only young people or teenagers who commit this error in judgement, the cell phones also lies in the hands of adults. Modelling is very important and especially in front of your own children. If you are a parent who brings the cell phone to the supper table and uses it constantly then you're likely the root of the problem here. The other issue comes from parents not only modelling but also from not standing up and saying something to their kids when they are doing it. Tell them no! Take the phone away. Make a statement and commitment that cell phones are best left elsewhere!
It used to be just taking a phone call during supper but this trend has now progressed into actually texting during meals and this just goes to show how face-to-face interactions are less and less important to people. The rudeness factor just jumped 3 fold!
Want a neat solution?
Some people are coming up with creative and unique ways to punish those who bring their phones out during meals.
The Phone Stack Game:"
Sick of people texting and talking on their cellphone during get-togethers at restaurants? A new game discourages such behaviour and can potentially cost the loser a lot of money."

The basic idea of the game is that you stack your phones on the table (you don't really have to stack it), and it starts right when you order your food. Once the food is ordered, you can not check your phone throughout the whole meal until everyone has paid and you're ready to leave. In this version by the kid who invented it, you pay for the whole meal (everyone's meal including your own) if you pick up your phone before the meal is done. 
There can be a few adaptations, as this sync blog article goes on to describe such as:
"adopt this game at home if gadgets at the dinner table are an issue. Rather than needing to pay for the meal, the loser needs to do the dishes or some other undesirable chore."

This is maybe something to look into if you find yourself, or your company you choose to keep, having trouble staying off facebook, twitter or texting your friends during a meal. The consequences may be severe but probably worth it in the end. 


What are your thoughts on all this?