What does the title of this blog mean? How are phones at the table a lost opportunity? This blog aims to focus on communication and how important communication with children is from a very young age. Whether you are a working parent or not, your child spends most of their young life with their parents or guardians and immediate family. When they get older, they might spend more time with a babysitter or at a preschool, communicating mostly with other children their age. Communication with parents and adults is crucial to the overall development of a child, the dinner table is often a prime opportunity to have these conversations.

Should we allow children to use phones at the dinner table?

The short and advised answer to this question is no. However, ultimately, it is a decision to be made by the parents or the house owner. Provided everyone around the table has had a few bites of food and is no longer ravenous after a long day of work and school, the dinner table provides the best location for everyone to sit around and share stories of their day. Having everyone staring at the screens of their phones or the TV in the background does not provide a quiet and inclusive environment for everyone to share stories about their day. Here are some reasons why we should not allow phone use at the dinner table.

Table manners

Improved eating habits

Modelling behaviour

Setting screen limits

Quality conversation

It teaches children general table manners. Using a phone at a table or in the company of others is not polite.

Minimizing distractions at the dinner table ensures that children are more focused on eating dinner. Healthy eating is vital for healthy brain development and function.

Children learn from the actions and behaviours they learn from home. Setting an example ensures that good customs are instilled in them at an early age.

If your goal is reducing screen time, not allowing phones at the table will make this goal easier. Ultimately, creating device-free zones in your household will prove hugely beneficial; the dinner table should be a device-free zone.

Engaging in meaningful conversations during meals can be an opportunity to discuss daily experiences, challenges, and successes. Phones can be a distraction from these important conversations.

Why is communication with your children important?

It seems strange to be a topic of discussion; however, ensuring you are communicating with your child effectively builds the foundations of developing a person from a child to a young person who will integrate and do well within the world and its communities. Here are a few reasons why;

Emotional bonding - Communication creates an emotional connection. Teaching children to communicate effectively with others will allow them to create strong emotional bonds with others and build strong relationships.

Language development - Our language, grammar, and vocabulary develop and improve when communicating. Teaching your child how to have a conversation and dialogue from a young age will help them throughout their educational and working lives.

Problem-solving - Teaching children to communicate issues and difficulties ultimately will teach them problem-solving skills. It encourages critical thinking and how to solve problems on their own. It will also help them with conflict resolution. If they can effectively identify a problem and communicate properly, they can solve any problem. 

Emotional Intelligence - Emotional intelligence is a very important characteristic to develop and have. Identifying, conveying, and managing emotions is vital to any person. Being able to feel and have empathy and sympathy for others indicates a well-rounded person.

Communication with your child is not just about conveying information; it's about nurturing their development, strengthening the parent-child bond, and equipping them with essential life skills. Effective communication sets the stage for a positive and healthy upbringing, helping children grow into confident, well-adjusted individuals. Allow the family dinner table to be a space where communication is enhanced and developed for all family members.