“Babe, you’re staring!” My husband whisper-shouted to me.
I couldn’t take my eyes away. It was like a movie, something we rehearse in our heads.
Last weekend, my family went out to celebrate my niece’s birthday. At a new Italian restaurant in town, we sat family-style and a long wooden table. With a few chairs left at the end, the hostess brought two moms and their children to sit at our table.
As soon as they sat down, the children pulled out their gadgets. Two had iPhones, one had an iPad. The moms began chit-chatting and the children were off in their own worlds. The waitress came to take drink orders.
“Lauren, tell her what you want to drink.” The girl stared dumbfounded at the waitress.
“She’ll have a Shirley temple.” her mom said.
The waitress left. The moms continued chit-chatting. The children kept busy on their gadgets.
My husband continued to tell me that I was staring, but I could not look away. It was fascinating. All at once I was amazed and proud and angry. I’m guessing these children ranged in age from 8 to 12 years old, ages that should allow children to be social and talkative and interested in a super cool restaurant with homemade pasta being rolled out in one corner and chefs throwing pizza in the air in another. Instead of enjoying their dining experience, they say silent, in a trance with their gadgets.
“Drake! Drake!” One mom barked to her kid.
The waitress was holding his hot pizza over his head, needing him to make some room for it in front of him. Arm shaking, she continued to wait. The boy had to finish his game.
At this point, I was thinking “Okay. I guess I can see playing a game or two while they wait for their food. Surely the moms will make them put their stuff away now that the food is here.”
Nope. They just continued: a bite of pizza here, more gaming, a drink of Sprite, more gaming. They didn’t talk to their moms. They didn’t talk to each other. They didn’t even acknowledge my adorable children who were sitting right next to them and obviously trying to say hello.
While I’m sure that iPhones and iPads aren’t the root of all evil, there has got to be a limit! I’m telling you, these children didn’t interact with anyone the entire two hours we were there. I’m not even sure they knew how. Instead of enjoying a night out with their children, these mothers enjoyed a night out with each other, leaving their children to be entertained by an expensive gadget. Technology is amazing and it is important for children to know how and be able to use it, but there comes a time when we need to realize that enough is enough.
What’s your take? How do you limit screen time with your children? What are your rules for gadgets during dinner time?