A Problem Shared: Mobiles and Tablets at the Dinner Table


A Problem Shared Parenting & Family Advice | by | 28th Apr 2017

Mobiles and Tablets At The Dinner Table

Technology at the dinner table is causing issues between mum and dad. We offer some tips on communicating, compromising and alternative activities to using mobiles and tablets.

But do you have any advice for this week’s A Problem Shared…?

If you need some help with any ideas or with any issues that are causing problems for your family why not share with the FamilyPoint Community? You can get advice and support from other parents as well as get an answer from one of our trained and experienced helpline adviser advocates. Click here.

Hi FamilyPoint,

Can you help settle an argument? When we go for food as a family, I have my phone and our tablet ready to go, so the kids (age 3 and 8) have something to watch while we eat. Yet this annoys my husband. He thinks that screen time has no place at the dinner table, especially at a restaurant. He thinks they shouldn’t need Peppa Pig and Turtles and should be engaged in the conversation.

However I don’t think he quite gets that he’s in fantasy land. They’re kids, they get bored. They can’t just sit still and behave perfectly on command. I’d rather they be quiet and not disturb other diners.

I’ve talked about this with my friends. Some think it’s a necessary evil. Other think it’s no different to do colouring in when eating out. Yet a few are dead against it, saying it’s important family time. I do agree to some extent with them but it’s tough, especially with a 3 year-old who is always on the edge of a meltdown.

Who’s right and what should we do? And should I not take the tablet if we’re going for food with friends with children who don’t watch videos with dinner?

Our FamilyPoint Reply

Thanks for contacting FamilyPoint Cymru. Sorry to hear that your children’s use of phones and tablets in restaurants is causing a disagreement between you and your husband. This is a debate amongst many parents, so you are definitely not alone!

Having quality family time to sit and talk is always important. A Problem Shared: Mobiles and Tablets At The Dinner Table

Keeping children entertained at the dinner table when you go out to dine is one of the challenges of parenthood and with the growing popularity of the use of phones/tablets at the table, everyone has their opinion. A recent survey completed by PC Advisor shows that 4 out of 5 parents believe that the use of mobiles and tablets are beneficial for their children, so you’re definitely not alone in your use of them within your family.

There is no right or wrong answer

Having quality family time to sit and talk is always important. This will teach your children essential life skills of communicating with others but keeping them entertained and providing enough stimulation is also as important. There is no right or wrong answer in this situation. It comes down to your decision as parents. However when two parents have different views that’s when it becomes challenging.

Communicating calmly with your husband to resolve this and exploring the pros and cons of each other’s points of view is probably how you’re going to come to a compromise. It’s important that you’re both comfortable with the approach you decide on. One compromise could be that the majority of the meal is tablet free and they are only used if there are long waits for food. Another might be they can use them only towards the end of a meal as a treat.

Educational apps instead of videos?

If you do decide to adopt limited tablet time during the meal, it could be beneficial for you to explore what kind of different activities your children could be doing on the phone/tablet. There are a number of educational apps available that would definitely benefit both your children. This could be the best way to reach a compromise with your husband. Apps4primaryschools.co.uk has some great information on these apps and their benefits.

Top trumps for mobiles tablets at dinner

Photo Credit: Facebook/TopTrumps

Perhaps taking something for you to do together as a family round the table would please everyone, such as a game? It would give you that time to communicate with each other, which your husband feels is important. Providing different activities, including time on mobiles and tablets, can keep your children occupied and content round the table.

You might also want to discuss this with friends before dining out. Explaining your approach and boundaries will make it clear what to expect.

I hope the suggestions above are helpful and all the best from us all at FamilyPoint Cymru.

If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.

I hope this advice has been helpful. Good luck.

The FamilyPoint Cymru Team


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