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Just as it is bad watching TV while eating, so is the habit of cell phone use during meals. This is especially true if the mealtime in question is centered around family, friends, or treasured occasions. Just as well, multitasking with technology at the dining table is bad even when we are dining alone!

Of course, there are moments we may want to keep our mobile phones close to us for understandable reasons. Notably, when expecting important calls that could be the difference between life and death, and when scheduling an appointment with the doctor. Fortunately, these emergencies come far apart and should be kept that way.

Otherwise, we should have the phones in silent mode – and better still turned 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:

The side effects of technology gadgets at the dining table are many but most important, they go against all mealtime etiquettes. Simply put, they are distractive, addictive, and keep us away from family, friends, and colleagues!


1. It is plain rude and uncouth

We are rude or disrespectful when we use our mobile phones to make calls, send text messages, or surf the internet while dining with family or friends. It is very important to acknowledge the presence of those around us during mealtimes, to make the moment worthwhile. When family and friends dine with us and have visibly placed their phones aside, we should take note.

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 also disrespectful to use our phones in public restaurants, where other patrons have to shrug off our audible conversations. We are ruining their mealtimes as well!


2. Cell phone during mealtimes denies us 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 activity 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 our food.

When the brain is hypnotized by the smartphone screen, it will under-utilize other sensory elements such as smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound, which are all closely linked to eating. And because the body does not get to appreciate these and other important eating 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. Besides the sight,

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

https://theconversation.com/playing-with-the-senses-can-change-how-food-tastes-75468

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

Mealtimes are meant to add up to the few moments of the day when we have to be PRESENT and savor the smell, taste, and sight of the food in front of us.


3. It is bad for health

We develop fussy eating when we waste out mealtimes with technology. We tend to lose interest in the food altogether and only eat a little to keep the body alive.

We may actually overeat as a result of our indulgence. This affects us most when we choose to binge on our cell phones for extended periods.

According to a host of nutritional experts around the world,

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.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938418309697

Overall, cell phone abuse during and after mealtimes can lead to numerous medical conditions:

  • exacerbates tech neck and overall bad posture
  • obesity, which can lead to diabetes in the long run
  • facilitates the transfer of germs from the touch screen to the mouth
  • exposure to cell phone radiation

4. A bad example to children & toddlers especially

he untethered attention we give the smartphones badly interferes with our parenting roles, especially mealtimes with toddlers.

They are watching, learning, and are bound to perpetuate the same habits, or worse develop extreme eating problems!

We see little of our children during the day, let alone indulge them face-to-face. We are also unable to find out if they are enjoying their meals, or even notice anything out of the ordinary, while they eat. Come to think of it, mealtimes should be the perfect moment to interact and find out more about children.

Just imagine what we can do with children during mealtimes:

  • Say a prayer together
  • Discover from them what should grace the next meal
  • Find out about their well-being
  • Update them on family news and values
  • Find out about their progress at school
  • Let them know why technology is disruptive at the dining table.

5. Cell phone use during meals denies us happiness

cell phone missuse can lead to unhappiness
Phone use at the dinner table may deny us the enjoyment derived from real-life social interactions.

Here is the thing, indulgence, phubbing, or other activities that sway our attention from eating, subconsciously affects our overall well-being with real people. When our mind is preoccupied with what is on the other side of the phone, we focus less and lose interest in people around us.

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.

We need to get our lives back by declaring phone-free zones, such as the dining table.

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