Technology is being used more and more these days by people of all ages. There is one con about technology that people don't normally talk about: using your phone at the dinner table. People need to stop pulling their phones out to look at Facebook, Twitter, etc. when they are having a meal with someone, otherwise they come across as being rude and unsociable. It's one thing to use your phone for emergencies, but it's another thing when you just want to post something Facebook or look at silly photos on Pinterest or Instagram.
Just so you'll know that this is not based on my personal feelings alone, I'm going to give you some statistics on people and their phones. Let's start with Jeremy Smith from ChurchMag. According to Smith, 29% of social media users are on social networking websites while eating or drinking at home, 32% of us text or socialize on a mobile device at meal time, and, specifically with the age range of 18-to-34-year-olds, Twitter, Facebook, and texting during mealtimes are a higher rate of 47%. Next is Mavis Butterfield from onehundreddollarsamonth.com who did a recent study and discovered that, on average, people check their phones 110 times per day. That's about once every 9.8 minutes. Finally, there's Bruce Feiler from The Learning Network who looked at a survey of restaurants for the 2011 Zagat guide to New York restaurants. There were 40,569 surveyors and 69 percent of them said that texting, checking e-mail or talking on the phone is rude and inappropriate in a restaurant. As you can see from all of these numbers, too many people are using their phones during a meal. That is not a good thing.
Now I'll tell you how having your phone out during a meal affects both you and your company. Using your phone can cause your company to feel as though you're not interested in them or what they have to say. Just laying your phone on the table could greatly offend them because it looks like you're just waiting for the conversation to be over so you can pick up your phone again.
According to Mark Prig from Daily Mail, there are two studies that showed how having your phone visible on the dinner table can cause your company to have negative feelings towards you. The studies were performed by psychologists at the University of Essex. They conducted the experiments having an idea that phones cause us to become less empathetic and understanding in face-to-face conversations because we're more focused on the wider social network. The first study involved 37 pairs of strangers who were forced to talk to each other for 10 minutes about an interesting event that happened in their lives. Half of them had phones on the table and the other half had notebooks on the table. When their conversations were over, they all answered questions regarding the person they met. The researchers found that the people with phones on the table did not enjoy the conversation as much as the people with the notebooks. They even stated that they were less likely to become friends with their partner if they interacted more often. The second study involved 34 pairs of different strangers where some talked about something dull while others talked about something meaningful. Once again, half of them had phones on the table and the other half had notebooks on the table. Those who had notebooks developed feelings of trust and closeness while those with the phones did not. The resetters wrote, "These results demonstrate that the presence of mobile phones can interfere with human relationships, an effect that is most clear when individuals are discussing personally meaningful topics." In other words, having your phone on the table while talking with someone not only insults that person but also causes you to have negative feelings towards that person.
Cindy Post Senning wrote a small article on The Emily Post Institute about having your phone on you at the dinner table. The article basically said that it's perfectly fine to have your phone out if you're eating alone, but if you have company, then it's better to put your phone away. If it's an emergency or you're waiting for a very important phone call, then leave your phone in a place nearby so you can quickly excuse yourself when you hear it ring. As Senning stated, "If you're having dinner with friends and family, be with them." You don't want to punch them away because you refuse to tear your nose away from the screen. Put the phone away and have a nice conversation with them. Then everyone will be happy and your relationship will grow much stronger.
It doesn't matter who you're eating with, it's good to always be completely present and engaged. Show your company that you're a nice and respectful person by putting your phone away. They will greatly appreciate it and you may even cause other people to put their phones away too. The time you spend with others is so important. That's why you need to cherish every minute you spend with someone because you never know what's going to happen in the future.