The death of dinner table chatter – is modern technology to blame?

Modern families are more likely to text or email at the dinner table than discuss their day

How often do you sit down to an evening meal with your family? Is it a nightly ritual, or something reserved for special occasions or weekends only?

Historically, the evening meal was the time for busy families to sit down together, unwind and talk about their day at school or work.

But now, family dinnertime has been invaded by modern technology. A study by Old El Paso has found that one in ten families often eat in silence, with almost a quarter blaming technology for the lack of conversation.

Dining table

One in twenty of those surveyed admitted that family meals are lucky to last five minutes before everyone runs off to do their own thing. TV was the biggest culprit for prying people away from the dinner table, closely followed by social media.

This follows another recent survey that revealed that only half of people see a dining room as a necessity.

Read more: Is the dining room a thing of the past?

Yet eight in ten families still believe that it’s important to sit and eat dinner together as a family. And professionals agree.

Psychologist and behavioural expert Emma Kenny says: ‘Modern life is hectic and it is very easy to let family meals go on the back burner.’

‘The truth is, eating together is critical to a harmonious and connected family life, and is often the only time that everyone gets chance to sit down to catch up with other family members all in one place.’

Dining table

‘Making sure that mealtimes are a technology free zone is critical to family cohesion and means that every family member can be fully present whilst enjoying a nutritious and delicious shared meal.’

Last week, TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp warned that the decline in families dining together could be harmful to family relationships and the wellbeing of children.

Read more: Kirstie Allsopp thinks the decline of dining tables is ‘dangerous’

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Parents that were surveyed came up with a list of rules to help reclaim family dinnertime:

  1. No gadgets, TV, phone calls, texts or emails at the dinner table
  2. Give everyone a chance to chat about their day
  3. No toys at the table
  4. No arguments
  5. Everyone has to stay at the table until the last person has finished eating
  6. Ask questions to encourage conversation
  7. No talking with your mouthful
  8. Children should help with meal prep/laying the table/clearing up
  9. Try at least one bite of everything
  10. If you don’t eat all of your meal, you don’t get any pudding

Can you think of any more rules for harmonious family mealtimes?

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