It is amazing to think how much technology has evolved in just a short period of time. Motorola created the first mobile phone in 1973 and it weighed over 1kg. The first smartphone, released by IBM, was still analogue but could let you check your emails in 1994. And it was only in 2007 that the first iPhone came out and revolutionised the industry of mobile devices.
I grew up in a disconnected world, yet now I cannot put my phone down. Our phones have become so addictive that we cannot even have a meal without giving into the fear of missing out. But how does this impact our lives? Phones have become, one could say, a natural extension of ourselves and the means for us to be connected to the world. But what about connecting with the people right in front of us?
1. Phones during family dinner
In 2018 chain restaurant Frankie & Benny’s commissioned a survey on the interactions between parents and children during family mealtime and how the use of mobile phones affects that.
1,500 parents and children were questioned and the results showed that phones sometimes receive more attention in the detriment of kids. Over a quarter of the parents said they checked their phones during family mealtime, while 23% even admitted looking at their phones when their children are telling them about their day.
Consequently, 20% of children said they believed their parents preferred spending time on their phones than talking to them, while about 10% said they event tried hiding their parents’ devices to get attention.
2. Restaurants with a no-phone policy
Following the survey, Frankie & Benny’s tested out a no-phone policy. When coming into the restaurant, parents were asked to give up their phones and, in exchange for the sacrifice, the family got a free kids’ meal.
Tijuana Picnic, in New York City, partnered with tech-free event organizers TTYL to provide guests with board games, colouring books and other activities that would make them forget all about their phones.
A bar manager from Frisco, Colorado, has said he likes to give prizes to the people who succeed in not using their phones. “The prizes can range from a round of drinks, a round of shots, or a copy of my book about smartphone addiction”.
mEAT Bar & Grill, in Newport, took a different approach of the same problem, having “technology free date nights”. If on a first date, you actually get to know each other better, whereas couples can just have a better-quality time together. For those who need help starting the conversation, the restaurant placed a list of topics and questions on each table.