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24th Aug 2016

Parents Agree This Is The Biggest Threat To Family Togetherness

Katie Mythen-Lynch

In a world where we are more connected than ever, we are increasingly distracted from our loved ones; something that has been shown to have a negative effect on kids’ emotional development.

The culprit? In a word: technology.

With an average of twelve internet connected gadgets per household, two thirds of parents (66 per cent) surveyed said that technology at mealtimes has a negative impact on their family.

While 38 per cent of parents have tried unsuccessfully to ban the use of phones, ipads and other devices when eating, close to half (48 per cent) feel like they have no way of stopping tech at the table.

According to the new research by Dolmio, most parents long for dinner to be an opportunity to enjoy good food while talking about what’s going on in each other’s lives.

That’s reinforced by 82 per cent of parents who said that mealtimes devoid of tech were positive and 55 per cent who said they saw a vast improvement in chat when gadgets were banned from the table.

Only one per cent of respondents believe meal times are made better with technology, while 72 per cent said their family arguments at the table stem from tech. On average, 2.49 families’ dinners each week are interrupted by technology distractions and one in five say that it happens at least five nights a week.

But help is at hand… Dolmio working with John Sharry, CEO of Parents Plus and Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the UCD School of Psychology have come up with these tips:

  1. Explain to children the importance of family meal time, sell it positively as a time to relax, share news and chat together.
  2. Involve children in preparation and cooking of meals to keep them busy and involved before dinner time – with older children create a rota of who cooks, washes up etc. and plan meals that everyone enjoys.
  3. Agree a simple ‘no technology’ rule, at dinner time (TV, phones and tablets all switched off). Model this rule yourself – you decide to be 100% present at mealtimes.
  4. Create a good routine around family meals, fixed times and certain duration etc. Aim for one special family night a week, when the meal is followed by treats and family games etc.
  5. Start small: if you currently have few family meals together, commit to just one a week. Make this fun and enjoyable and then expand to have meals on other days.

Do you allow tech at the dinner table? Join the conversation on Twitter @HerFamilydotie.