With technology playing such a role in our everyday lives, it’s not uncommon to see restaurant-goers on their phone while at the table. Not only does being on the device likely keep them from fully enjoying the meal, but it also cuts back on the quality time they could be spending with their loved ones. A U.K.-based restaurant chain named Frankie & Benny’s recently did a study to look at the ways in which technology use is affecting behavior and conversation at the dinner table, according to Today.
The study examined a total of 1,500 people to see the role that technology plays in the quality of their family meals. They found out that it isn’t just teens and children who are obsessed with checking their phone, it’s their parents as well. Research showed that 72 percent of the children studied claimed they would like their parents to spend less time on their phones and more time being fully present during meals. In addition, 70 percent of the children surveyed said they would like to take away their parents’ phones at the dinner table as a result of this consistent behavior. To put it simply, children simply would like to feel that their parents care enough to put down the device and give them their full attention.
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Frankie & Benny’s was appalled by this research and wanted to do something about it. As a result, they decided to offer free meals at their restaurant for children. However, this deal comes with one stipulation. The parents must stay off their phone for the duration of the meal in order to have their child’s food paid for. The eatery would like to emphasize that they are not totally banning the use of technology in their restaurants, they simply hope that this will motivate parents to spend quality time with their children during their meal.
Parenting expert Susan Atkins issued a public statement about the restaurant’s reasoning behind their decision.
“Children spell love T-I-M-E and by putting away screens parents are sending the message that their children are important to them and that can only be good for family time,” she said. “Parents are role models in everything that they do and in everything that they say, so by managing their own screen time parents are teaching their kids by example about when and where technology use is appropriate.”
Frankie & Benny’s hopes that this new change will allow for increased family time and good communication between parents and children.