Hang up, hang out: stay off your phone at mealtime

By Madison Day | Digital Managing Editor

Think about 10 or 15 years ago when you were a kid eating dinner with your family. No one was on a smartphone scrolling through their Instagram feed; no one had their phones on the table waiting for a text to come in. It was just you, your family and the food — yum. However, now anytime you’re out for a meal, waiting in line for coffee or just relaxing with your roommates, it’s hard to imagine those scenes without your phone in them.

We are constantly with our devices, and it is pretty much impossible to live without them. However, it is possible to take one or two hours a day away from your device to decompress and connect with the people you’re closest to. Not to mention, it is good practice for when you’re in an interview or having coffee with your future boss. Chances are, that person will find it both distracting and rude if you’re checking your phone every minute while you’re together, and they probably wouldn’t hire you. So, practice separating yourself from your phones now and stay off them during mealtimes.

Technology addiction is becoming increasingly more prevalent, so practicing staying off your phone for a few hours a day will help to decrease that. Focus on the people that are right in front of you and have a meaningful conversation with them instead of with your Snapchat friends or Instagram followers.

To me, there’s nothing worse than seeing a couple or group of friends out to dinner with several of their heads buried in their phones and not interacting with one another. Being on your phone when you’re with someone can make them feel undervalued and like you don’t want to be spending time with them. According to Good Housekeeping magazine, 51% of couples have argued about smart-phone use during mealtime.

Additionally, not only is it a cause of arguments, but studies also show that phone use during mealtime actually decreases one’s happiness and leads to being dissatisfied with your meal, according to a study by Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. What memory is to be made from being on your phone? How will your relationship grow with a friend or significant other with your head in your device? Even in this digital age, the most meaningful memories come from human interaction and in-person relationships.

The same study also shows that phone use is “contagious.” If you get on your phone, then the other people with you will likely do the same. So, next time you’re out for dinner, make the initiative to stay off your phone.

Don’t check it for new notifications, don’t scroll through Instagram or watch Snapchat videos. Just relax, give your eyes a break and chat with the people around you. It’s practically guaranteed you’ll have a more fulfilling experience and a better memory to take away from that night.