Technology During Dinnertime? Mother Says NO! III: Closer Relationships, Attachment, and Busy Lifestyles
by Camilla Moreira, MPsy
This series was originally completed as a Major Research Project in partial fulfillment of Adler Graduate Professional School’s Master of Psychology degree.
No Technology During Mealtime Promotes Closer Relationships
Participants revealed that not having technology during mealtime improves their relationships by promoting special moments among them, increasing communication, developing social skills, and increasing bonding as the following excerpts illustrate. Each one of those relationship improvements is discussed in more detail below.
Promoting Special Moments Among Them
Mothers reported that not allowing technology during mealtime affected how their family members related among themselves by creating special moments, full of happiness, fun, laughter, and joint pleasure.
Monica reported mealtime as a place of excitement for the whole family.
Um, it just, and it becomes a place maybe we just, like the kids have a funny joke to tell us and it just turns into, uh, a laughing . . . fest. (Monica, 1st interview)
She also described how it is pleasurable for all family members, and how getting together during mealtime encourages happiness and feelings of gratification among the family.
Something that we all enjoy coming to. It’s the expectation. It’s not, it’s not like, uh, it’s not like it’s we’ll come if we all have time. It’s just we, it’s just the expectation. We all get together. Um, but we all want to. You know, even though it’s expected, but I think it’s just because we, we enjoy each other’s company. We want to be there. I don’t know. I guess, I guess that would be my third. It’s just we want to experience that happiness around the table or that feeling of satisfaction that we’ve all touched each other. . . so to speak. (Monica, 1st interview)
Monica reported occasionally allowing herself to appreciate that special time and not bother with house chores when the meal is over.
Sometimes we would be finished eating and we would still be around the table 30 minutes later, you know, not worried about putting dishes away or cleaning the dishes, but because we were having a great discussion. (Monica, 1st interview)
She described that not having technology during mealtime promotes playfulness among her family.
And sometimes it could be teasing, you know. (Monica, 1st interview)
Monica noticed mealtimes as a safe place where the kids can engage in reciprocal conversations about any topic. She perceived it as the time to be there as a family, where members look out for themselves together.
When you’re around the table, it seems that um conversation with the whole family seems to happen more fluidly, where the kids might express something that heard, um or uh you know tell a joke, or uh it’s a, I guess a time when we’re looking at each other. We’re present, um and it’s easier to communicate with each other instead of individually. (Monica, 2nd interview)
Just like Monica, Sally also reported allowing family members to sit around the table when the meal is done just to engage with her family.
Um, in our family, at dinnertime, after eating, the children are not allowed to excuse themselves immediately, so there is … I mean, we’re, we’re very aware that they’re children and can’t sit there forever, um, but they know that there’s, our rule is after you finish eating, you kind of have to sit there doing nothing per se, right, which means engaging with the family. (Sally, 1st interview)
So there’s a five-minute, seven-minute period where they’re sitting with us and we’ve all finished the meal, just sitting around, and we talk. And the kids now are the ones who remind us, uh, “So, what’s, Mom, what’s the best part of your day?” (Sally, 1st interview)
Sally also described mealtime as this special place where family members help each other when dealing with difficult situations; she also noted that it becomes a place that promotes fun and childishness.
Its a chance to really contribute to um being a part of solving each other’s problems and, and we do have lots of laughs and you know there’s uh by the time we finish dinner there’s a lot of silliness going on. Yep. (Sally, 2nd interview)
Olivia reported as part of her routine to continue around the table appreciating each other’s company while engaging in conversation even when the plates are empty.
We, um, we just try to really enjoy the meal. The meals usually take, take a little while. We don’t just eat and leave. We, we try to stretch it out. Again, we lived in France for a long time, so the, we learned to, to make the meals stretch out and we’ll have desserts and, and sometimes we sit around even when the plates are empty and continue the conversation. That’s how I can see that the bonding is happening, when nobody’s ready to leave, even when the food is gone. (Olivia, 2nd interview)