5 Reasons Why Cell Phone Use During Meals is Not Cool!

Cell phone use during meals denies us meaningful eating experiences, is distractive, and keeps us AWAY from family and friends.

Updated Dec 21, 2023
phones during mealtimes

Cell phone use during meals is just as bad as eating while watching television! This is especially true if the mealtime in question is centered around family, friends, and treasured occasions.

Multitasking with technology is equally wrong when dining alone!

Of course, there are understandable circumstances where phones may be needed at the dinner table. Say, when expecting emergency calls, or other important engagements. Sometimes, we simply want to capture unforgettable mealtime moments.

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

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

These arguments explain why cell phone use during meals is not cool

cell phone use during meals

Technology gadgets at the dining table go against all mealtime and cell phone etiquettes. They are distractive, addictive, and keep us away from 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 or swipe through social media platforms while dining with family and friends. This is particularly true when others have visibly placed their phones aside and have chosen to focus on their meals! Why do we become blind to these humane gestures?

It is also annoying to those who have labored to prepare the meal, and probably waiting for some form of feedback.

Even worse, it is annoying when the offender is slurping, lip-smacking, licking, chewing loudly, and yapping on the phone!

Our indulgence in technology is not only a problem at home. It is also disrespectful in public restaurants, where other patrons have to shrug off our audible inconveniences.

Our phubbing is surely ruining their meal times!

According to 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 pleasant when everyone around the dinner table acknowledges and respects the presence of other diners!

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

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 effective eating.

And because the body is being blocked from utilizing these important senses, our ability to enjoy the food diminishes.

A well known Roman gourmet called Apicius said

first taste is with the eyes

Besides 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 our senses are denied the opportunity to appreciate the look, aroma, touch, and sound of 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 other health complications when we juggle mealtimes with technology.

We actually eat very little, or too much, because the hormones in our bodies are just as distracted! The ability to absorb calories can be messed up by picky eating, and overeating!

According to 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 complicate these health conditions:

  • Tech neck
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Ulcers, low body weight, and stunted growth
  • Eating disorders such as ARFID
  • Exposure to germs from the touch screen
  • Increased exposure to cell phone radiation

4. It is a bad example to toddlers & children

The unmetered attention we accord smartphones badly interferes with our roles as parents.

Children observe what we do, learn from us, and will definitely multitask with technology. They will perpetuate the same habits when they grow up, and teach their kids the same.

Given their innocence, they will grow up knowing technology is an important tool around the dining table.

Here is something to think about:

We see little of our children during the day, let alone indulge them face-to-face, because we are busy at work. Mealtimes are an opportune moment to recognize their presence, let alone finding out if they enjoy the meal before them. We can also find out if they are developing eating disorders, and figure out ways to fix them.

Come to think of it, mealtimes should be the perfect moment for families to be there for each other.

Imagine what we can do with children and other family members during mealtimes:

  • Say a prayer together
  • Spot that offending recipe
  • Discuss the next meal
  • Discuss who should prepare that next meal
  • Discuss why technology is not good around the dinner table!

Last but not least, we should be careful not to talk children with food in the mouth. It is disgusting and definitely a bad eating etiquette.

5. Cell phone use during meals presents missed opportunities for bonding & TRUE happiness

Here is the thing, indulgence in technology subconsciously affects our well-being with those dining with us. When we are preoccupied with what is on the other side of the smartphone, we focus less on those visibly present.

Subsequently, we talk less, laugh less, and see less of each other!

According to a study by the University of British Columbia, phone use in all the wrong places denies us the opportunity to bond with family and friends. 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.

Additionally, diminished non-verbal communication, impaired social bonding, and missed opportunities for sharing and laughter can further affect relationships and connections during and after mealtimes.

Engrossment in phones can lead to disrupted conversations, reduced quality time, and a lack of active listening.

Time to get our table manners back!

mealtime for bonding
Photo by Kampus (Pexels)

In all honesty, excess cell phone indulgence will distract us from eating correctly.

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.

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

We can do it.

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