Do your kids (or you!) use devices at the dinner table? You need to check this out.
Last week on the Parenting Bytes podcast we interviewed Caroline Knorr from Common Sense Media about a fascinating new survey they conducted regarding screen time and kids eight years and younger. And while it was just mentioned in passing, the idea of Common Sense’s #DeviceFreeDinner movement got me a little upset, as it always does. It’s not Common Sense’s fault, I’m really glad that they’re doing something to try to convince families to put their devices away during dinner. But it really aggravates me that this movement is necessary.
If you know me, you know that I have put very few restrictions on my kids when it comes to smartphones, computers, video games, and TV. From the time they were little my philosophy was always that as long as they were doing well—behaving in school, being reasonably pleasant to us, doing their chores, etc.—they could do what they wanted in their free time. I am in no way anti device. I’m the opposite.
But when I come across kids (or adults) who aren’t capable of sitting through a meal without picking up a phone, I get aggravated. No matter what the rules are at other times, there is absolutely no reason that kids—barring any diagnosed behavioral issues—shouldn’t be able to sit still and carry on a conversation for twenty minutes. If they can’t do it now, they’re not going to be able to magically do it when they’re adults. I mean, Will Ferrell can’t even do it.
If this is you and your family, please check out the #DeviceFreeDinner movement. You can sign up for updates, get ideas for dinnertime activities, create a family media plan, and more. And for goodness’ sake, model good mealtime behavior for your kids by putting your own device down.
You can hear the interview with Caroline Knorr and other good stuff on this episode of Parenting Bytes.
This Episode’s Links
‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia, by Paul Lewis – The Guardian
The ‘Getting In’ Podcast, by Julie Lythcott-Haims – Slate
‘How To Raise An Adult,’ by Julie Lythcott-Haims