My boys are totally glued to their screens at every available opportunity, and it’s been even worse over the school holidays. Whether it’s Arlo killing it at Argar.io on the iPad, or Sam busting some wrestling moves on WWE on the PS4, trying to get them to the dinner table is like trying to force a limpet off the side of a rock with a plastic teaspoon.
In fact, as a parent I’d have to say that prising the boys away from their gaming devices is the BIGGEST cause of meltdowns in our house.
And we’re not exactly the only ones caught up in these daily tussles, with 67 per cent of 2,000 parents surveyed by Dolmio® saying family arguments at the table stem from technology. It’s therefore not really surprising to also find out:
- One in three households has tried unsuccessfully to ban tech when eating at the dinner table
- On average, more than two family dinners per week are interrupted by technology distractions, with one in three (35%) saying that it happens at least three nights a week
- Close to half (48 per cent) feel like they have no way of stopping tech at the table
Why does it matter?
The Dolmio® research also found that 82 per cent of parents said that tech-free mealtimes are happier and 56 per cent said they saw a vast improvement with everyone around the table talking.
There are so many benefits to eating tech-free according to Psychotherapist and Psychologist Corinne Sweet. “Less stress and distraction, more eye-contact and laughter, and better communication. Children do better at school and family relations are more solid when communication flows, which is so important in our hectic, 24/7 fragmented lives today.”
So I’m working with Dolmio® to come up with some hints and tips to help families come together for tech-free dinners.
My top five tips for tech-free family meal times
- Set a time for dinner and make sure everyone knows when they need to be off their screens and ending their games, no matter what. Give them 20 minute, 15 minute, 10 minute and 5 minute warnings so it’s not a complete shock to the system. My kids get so absorbed in what they’re doing that you really do have to give them constant reminders.
- Before you sit down together at the table, get everyone to put their devices switched to silent in a basket or drawer, and then put it somewhere out of reach.
- Adults must also adhere to these rules or it’s totally hypocritical, so they must also hand their screens over.
- Make meals into fun and memorable events to shift the focus away from technology. Things like Taco Tuesdays, Fish and Chip Fridays and Spaghetti Sundays are something everyone can look forward to.
- Get the kids to help with cooking the meal. This gets them off their screens, into the kitchen and excited about the food they’re cooking. It also means they’re more likely to try new ingredients that they would have turned their noses up at previously.
We never let the children have devices at the dinner table, in fact it’s probably the grown-ups who are more likely to be checking their phones and iPads. I’m such an e-mail and Facebook junkie because I work from home that I find it really hard to switch off.
This campaign is a good reminder that I should lead by example and put my phone away during meals – after I’ve snapped my dinner and put it on Instagram that is!
Celebrity mum Louise Redknapp is the face of the Dolmio® tech free tables campaign and has made this fun video with her boys to show how they cope without screens over dinner.
How does it work in YOUR house? I’d love to hear your tips for tech-free mealtimes! What do you think about the research? Leave your comments below
Find out more about the Dolmio #TechFreeTables campaign here>>>
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WIN WIN WIN!
To help make your dinnertimes tempting enough to get your family off their screens, one lucky reader can win this fabulous Dolmio hamper.
Partnered Post: I’ve been commissioned to create this blog post by Dolmio® to raise awareness of the importance of tech-free mealtimes.