It’s time to STOP teaching our kids: “keep your phone away from the dinner table.”
I have an unpopular opinion.
As an etiquette instructor, I’m going to stop teaching my students to leave their phones away from the dinner table.
Hear me out… For years now I’ve been teaching students: “Don’t bring your phone to the dinner table. Leave it in the car or in your room.”
But the more I’m around kids, the more I realize this just isn’t realistic. More often than not, the phones are nearby. So instead of teaching them to never take their phone to the table, let’s teach them what they can actually do with their phone at the table.
Out of sight.
Even though I’m giving up on pretending they will actually leave their phones away from the table, I’m still not advocating for phones to actually be visible at the table.
The best place to keep your phone is preferably in your pocket or in your bag. The next best option would be under your napkin, though you may be more tempted to check it if it’s that close. It most definitely should never be face-up on the table.
Situations arise. I get it. And parents, especially, need to be able to get in touch with their kids. *Glancing* at your phone a a couple times during a casual meal with friends or family is reasonable to me.
I also think it’s a good idea to mention why you’re looking at your phone. Saying something like, “excuse me, let me make sure my dad hasn’t called,” is a nice gesture to the people around you. It lets them know you’re not just checking your Insta notifications.
So, I said glancing at your phone a couple times is ok. But let’s dive deeper into what that means.
A *glance* is just that- a few seconds to see if you’ve missed an emergent call or text. You shouldn’t have to swipe, scroll, or tap the screen.
Look down – no missed texts from dad – look back up.
If the situation is TRULY time-sensitive and you must return the call or text, you should excuse yourself and step outside, to the lobby, or to a restroom to send the text or make a call. Make sure you choose a place where bystanders don’t have to be unintentional eavesdroppers to your conversation. Speak quietly and save the chit chat until after the meal is finished.
The main thing to remind our kids (and to remember ourselves) is that even though your phone is with you, the #1 rule of phones still applies: the people in your PRESENCE take priority. Always.
Phones are here to stay, especially with the younger generation. I hope this article helps equip you with the kind and respectful way to have your phone on you at the table.
**P.S. I hope it’s obvious, but please note, in the photo above, I’m demonstrating what NOT to do.