The debate surrounding screens and family meal times has been raging on for a while now, and new research has some strong opinions on the matter.
After a long weekend spent in the company of my children and another family’s, I was reminded of the joy of eating together.
Sure there was a mess, noise, and a few tantrums about who was going to use The Wiggles fork. But that’s what happens when there are six kids under six around a table and a readily accessible bottle of tomato sauce.
But essentially, those rough and tumble meal times are a reminder of the value in sharing food and conversation.
Dads in favour of mealtime chit chat
A few months ago, Sydney restaurateur Attila Yilmaz copped some serious flak for un-inviting children with screens to his Canterbury restaurant. He said he wanted parents and kids to interact and was so passionate about it, he was offering a free glass of wine for any families keen to obey the rules.
More recently, Dave G Allan joined in, writing a compassionate post on CNN’s parenting blog in favour of nourishing our kids’ minds (with our attention and conversation) as we nourish their bodies with food at meal times.
Dave argues that mealtimes are a precious space in the day to boost connection and recommends playing games around the table, especially in restaurants while waiting for food to arrive.
Family dinners equal smarter kids
According to recent research into Canadian preschoolers, children who spend more meals around the table as a family grow up to perform better academically and indulge in far less teenage smoking, drinking and drug use to boot.
They also found that the more time spent in front of iPads, computers, TVs and mobile phones, the greater the levels of “clinically significant inattention problems” and ADHD-type behaviour issues.
How’s this for a shocking fact: when a child increases his screen time from 30 minutes to more than two hours a day, these problems are multiplied at least five times over.
Pick your times (and your battles)
That’s some pretty hardcore justification for keeping screens out of sight right there.
Of course, we also have to get real as parents. Sometimes, we all need some quiet time and to tune out a bit, and handing over the iPad for a half an hour really can buy you that.
But why not make that time during the part of the day where you aren’t all eating?
This article originally appeared on Babyology.
One simple ritual could put bad screen time habits to bed (literally)
If you struggle to get your kids to switch off, this might be a godsend.
Helping your child start school in a digital age
What can you and your child expect in the classroom?
7 creative indoor activities to amp up the fun this long weekend
Stuck indoors and need some play ideas? Here's some fun ways to bust kids' boredom.
Why my partner and I don’t see eye-to-eye on screen time
Ahead of our Screen Free Challenge, Shevonne Hunt discusses her approach to tech with the kids - and why it's different to her partner's.
Dear mum with the "difficult" child, you need to know this
You are not failing!
Kmart's new same-sex family doll sets are selling out fast
Aussie families are cheering Kmart's new range of family doll sets that include same-sex families.
Mum’s clever blue bucket idea to help kids with autism enjoy Halloween
This simple idea will make Halloween an easier time for kids with autism and other verbal issues.
6 ways to avoid daylight saving messing with your child's sleep
The change to daylight saving time can really interrupt your child's sleep routine, but it doesn't have to.