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Last Updated: October 30, 2020

Just as it is bad to eat while watching TV, so is the habit of cell phone use during meals. This is especially true if the mealtime in question is centered around family, friends, and treasured occasions.

Just as well, multitasking with technology at the dining table is bad etiquette even when we are dining alone!

Of course, there are moments we will want to keep mobile phones close to us for understandable reasons: Notably when expecting important calls that could be the difference between life and death, and when waiting to schedule an appointment with the doctor. Also true, we sometimes just want to capture and store the unforgettable mealtime moments.

Fortunately, these emergencies and moments come far apart and should be kept that way.

Otherwise, we should have the phones in silent mode – or turn them off completely! A mealtime won’t last an hour, surely, and the time-off won’t kill us either.

Reasons why cell phone use during meals is not cool:

Technology gadgets at the dining table go against all mealtime and cell phone etiquettes, simply because they are distractive, addictive, and keep us away from family and friends!

cell phone missuse can lead to unhappiness
Phone use at the dinner table denies us the opportunity to bond with family and friends.

1. Cell phone use during meals is rude and impolite

We are rude and impolite when we use our cell phones to make calls, send text messages, or swipe through social networking apps while dining with family or friends. This is particularly true when they have visibly placed their phones aside.

According to a Pew research in 2018, cell phone use in gatherings annoyed those close by.

82% of all adults (not just cell owners) say that when people use their cellphones at social gatherings, it at least occasionally hurts the conversation and atmosphere of the gathering. Some 37% say it “frequently” hurts the gathering and another 45% say it “occasionally” hurts the gathering, while only 18% say it “rarely” or “never” hurts the gathering.

It is very important and polite to acknowledge the presence of those around us at the dinner table, to make the mealtime worthwhile. This etiquette has been customary in our homes through the centuries and it is only now getting abused.

Our indulgence with technology is not only a problem at home. It is also disrespectful to use them in public restaurants, where other patrons have to shrug off our audible inconveniences. Our phubbing is ruining their mealtimes as well!

2. Phubbing at the dinner table denies us a true dining experience

It is pretty obvious that indulgence with our mobile phones will distract us from eating correctly.

While phones interfere with the eating experience itself, they actually deny us the opportunity to enjoy the food we are eating. In any case, we spend more time swiping away than touching the food.

When the brain is hypnotized by the smartphone screen, it under-utilizes sensory elements such as sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound, which are all closely linked to eating. And because the body is failing to appreciate these important senses, our ability to enjoy the food diminishes.

A well known Roman gourmet called Apicius said

first taste is with the eyes

Research has shown he was right, and besides the sight, according to The Conversation,

– you should see, hear, smell, and touch food as well if you are going to make enough of a meal of a dining experience.

When we fail to appreciate the look, aroma, touch, and sound of the food, in addition to the good virtues that come with eating we truly miss out on a true dining experience!

3. Cell phone use during meals is bad for health

It is no secret that we develop fussy eating habits and a host of health complications when we juggle mealtimes with technology.

We may actually eat very little, or eat too much due to our indulgence. Picky eating and overeating will mess up with the ability of the body to absorb calories!

According to a number of nutritional experts,

The use of smartphones during meals may possibly influence the number of ingested calories… Eating with distracters increased approximately 15% caloric ingestion… Smartphone use during a meal increased caloric and lipid intake, depending on sex and age in young adults with complete dentition.

Overall, cell phone abuse during mealtimes may lead to numerous medical conditions listed here:

It may,

  • lead to tech neck and bad body posture
  • lead to obesity and diabetes due to overeating
  • cause ulcers, low body weight, and stunted growth due to picky eating
  • lead to eating disorders such as ARFID
  • facilitate the transfer of germs from the touch screen to the mouth
  • expose the body to cell phone radiation

4. It is a bad example to toddlers & children

The unmetered attention we give to the smartphones badly interferes with our parenting roles.

Children are watching, learning, and are bound to perpetuate the same habits when they grow up. They will subsequently develop extreme eating problems such as impulsive and picky eating!

We see little of our children during the day, let alone indulge them face-to-face. We are unable to find out if they are enjoying their meals, or notice anything out of the ordinary, while they eat.

Come to think of it, mealtimes should be the perfect moment to see and interact and our children better.

Just imagine what we can do with them during mealtimes:

  • Say a prayer together
  • Discuss the next meal
  • Discover their well-being at home and school
  • Update them on family news
  • Teach them not to abuse technology!

5. Cell phone use during meals denies us TRUE happiness

Here is the thing, indulgence in technology subconsciously affects our well-being with people who really matter in our lives. When we are preoccupied with what is on the other side of the smartphone, we focus less in them and everyone else around us.

Subsequently, we talk less, laugh less, see less of each other, and we never stop to breath!

According to a study by the University of British Columbia, phone use in the wrong places may deny us the enjoyment derived from real-life social interactions. This includes dining table interactions.

Participants were randomly assigned to keep their phones on the table or to put their phones away during the meal. When phones were present (vs. absent), participants felt more distracted, which reduced how much they enjoyed spending time with their friends/family.

There is so much fun out there when we stop and acknowledge our own existence and the existence of people around us.

Time to get our table manners back!

We seriously need to declare the dining table a phone-free zone. Then we can have back our lives, family, friends, and colleagues! That is how it has been for centuries and only becoming a SERIOUS problem in the 21st century.

We can do it.