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Meals with Phone

a stack of iphones

“Stack ’em up!” I say when we’re out to dinner.

“Remember, no phones at dinner,” I remind my kids at home, gently, with a smile on my face…while I am seething on the inside.

Don’t they remember the rule? No. Phones. At. The. Table.

Meals with phones don’t mix.

We did have rules about the phone, like this mom. But, over time, and many more phone owners in the family, some of those rules have been forgotten.

Admittedly, I am pretty tired of kids and phones. I feel so agitated with the buzzing, dinging and vibrating, it makes me want to scream, throw the phone out the window, or stomp on it!

And group chat? What a nightmare…if you’ve ever experienced your child on a group chat, you know it’s maddening. Every. Repeated. Buzz. Ding. Beep.

boy holding iphones

So why do my kids have them? Originally, we bought them as a means to stay connected, particularly when after-school activities end, a change in social plans occur, or a question needs to be asked.

We live in the digital age, and our kids are part of that, whether we like it or not. With the hustle and bustle of working, school, travel, and four kids, I felt a need to stay connected–and the phone was the sensible choice.

If you check my texts with my kids, they amount to this:

“I’m here.”


“What time do you need to be picked up?”

“Are you there yet?”

If you checked my kids’ texts, you’d see it loaded with full conversations, arguments, plan changes, and jokes–all with their friends.

I am not the lion share of the conversations on their phones. The fact that they have full conversations via texting is another subject–one that many parents I know leave them afraid that their children won’t be able to communicate with others face-to-face.

I didn’t realize how overpowering the mobile phone would be. Or how much a part of their lives they would become.

For my younger two, regulating their access, especially at night, during school (which the school already does) and at the meal table makes sense.

My older two teens are much harder to moderate, though they go along with the no phone rule at dinner. School encourages them to use their phones as a data source in the classroom.

And, admittedly, they take their phone to their room at night–and I know the buzzing, dinging, and bells go off in the late hours. But for my almost-off-to-college girl and my other high-schooler, I believe they need to find a balance, and self-regulate the phone, just as I believe they need to do the same with food and eating.

I give them reminders about how much the phone can be a distraction and why they should turn it off when studying so they can fully focus. These suggestions probably go in one ear and out the other–but they make me feel good–like I am providing them suggested alternatives, and parenting them responsibly.

How do you regulate your child’s phone in your house?

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  1. I think what you’re doing is great – stick with it! I started teaching high schoolers this year and they are SOOO addicted to their phones. And this is me saying this, who is known for being on her phone constantly to check facebook, or group chats or whatever – teaching is the time of day when I can’t answer my phone or even look at it and I survive. So I tell my students the same. And take away the phones if necessary 😉 To this new generation, the phone is just an extension of their personality and their relationships. And it’s not bad – when I was a teenager I would only be able to talk to my friends at school or sometimes they’d call the landline and I had to share with my brothers. So my relationships where very limited. Kids these days can communicate with their friends whenever they want, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to communicate face to face.

    Again – stick with what you’re doing! You’re a cool mom! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your perspective Soph! I appreciate it–sometimes i worry that our teenagers won’t be able to communicate face-to-face and this limitation will impact their future job opportunities and relationships…

  2. My kids are too young for cell phones. What I want to know is how to regulate a spouse’s phone/laptop use at the table? That bugs me right now.

    Also sometimes the kids ask a question and the other parent busts out with google to answer it. Innocent enough, but I’m a stickler about ideals.