5 Etiquette Tips For iPhones At The Dinner Table
Texting a friend to join their family for dinner. Snapchatting a video of the dog begging for a burger. Calling your teen to check in to see if they’ll make it home on time for dinner. There are a number of individuals that use their smartphones either at or around the dinner table for different reasons. Depending on the attitude of the people joining you for dinner, cell phones might be socially appropriate, or complete off the table- no pun intended.
More than 50% of adults own smart phones, and one-third of them use their smart phones at the dinner table. Jumping on the phone to answer a work email or falling into the black hole that is social media can appear rude or even negatively nuanced with the habits like picking your teeth, not “contributing” to dinner conversation, or using bad manners.
We’ve compiled our big five rules of phone etiquette at the dinner table. Although the people you surround yourself with at the table strongly shape phone use while attending table meals, building an awareness of iPhone culture during family time is valuable for other events of similar nature you attend.
1. Don’t bring your phone to the dinner table
The best advice we have is leave your phone as far away from the dinner table as possible! Drop it somewhere safe and routine before dinner even begins, and this way it won’t be so hard to disconnect from your mobile activities right before dinner.
Ignoring someone to check a digital device at a table can feel disrespectful and hurtful to someone else who views the action as putting technology before them. A recent study called Digital Divisiveness, 2,025 people were interviewed about technology in their relationships with loved ones. Of the 2,025 interviewees, 89% reported damaged relationships due to their significant other choosing to engage with their phone over them at important dinners and get-togethers.
Set the expectation for yourself that the dinner table is a place of phoneless pleasure. Engage and care for your loved ones and neglect your phone. Work on the relationships in front of you. After all, when the next iPhone comes out, you’ll dump the old faster than you bought it!
2. Check in with your dinner mates
People have different relationships with their phone. When you decide to sit down for dinner with people, it might be worth checking in with your family by observation to see if they bring their phones with them to the table.
Go early to dinner and check out where phones are at. Are phones nearby on a counter, in a collective bowl in another room, or are they in your dinner mate’s hands? Visible rule of thumb can usually indicate what type of dinner experience you’ll have with your friends and family.
If people bring their phones to the table, it might be for work or it might be out of attachment to the phone. Don’t judge others for their use of the phone, but be aware of what the majority of people are doing and mimic their engagement.
Dinner experiences vary from place to place. Always observe phone relationships at the table first, and then ask someone if their mates bring their phones to the table. It couldn’t hurt! The question could also spark an initiative for someone to request all phones be turned to silent and left in the other room.
3. Silence your phone
No matter if people bring their phones to the dinner or not, sound and light is distracting and can take away from dinner conversation. Silence your phone, and turn down the brightness Notifications can trigger you to immediately grab for your phone and a buzz can make others jump in distress.
Be mindful of your activities. If you are waiting on an urgent matter, fine. Keep the phone with you and let notifications flood your screen. However, put the phone on silence and turn down the brightness. The silence and dim lighting will not only be less distracting to others at the table, but it will also help you break the itch to grab your phone and engage in a plugged-in activity.
4. Propose and set rules
Face-to-face interaction is important in this technology-driven world we live in. It is in important to set an intention with the members of your family or your friends to maintain the character and depth of conversations and engagement. It is never a bad idea to suggest a phone bowl!
Group-mentality. Get your friends and family on board with the idea of dropping phones in a bowl before dinner, only to retrieve them after dinner- and dessert! If the majority of people are in, it is likely that the phone freaks will follow. A recent study pointed out that subtle cues, body language, and tone can all be missed in conversations when people are glued to their screen. By diminishing the phones from view, people are better able to disconnect from the tiny screens that cause such insatiable craze and attachment. People are more likely to then engage in face-to-face interactions, and get a sense of in-plugged pleasure with those in the present moment.
Encourage your friends and family to let go of attachment and sink into the present moment by creating a phone bowl rule that everyone must follow during dinner. Who knows, people might really like it!
5. Excuse Yourself
I think it has been hammered home that we don’t suggest you place your phone next to your dinner plate or think to engage with it at all unless the matter is excusably urgent. If you must answer an urgent call or send an urgent email, you should excuse yourself from the table and act quickly. Work or an emergency can take priority over dinner, but the phone is not the priority.
Let your family and friends know something came up and you have to take the call. Use phrasing like, “I apologize, I will be right back. I have to take this call.” or “Can I excuse myself for a brief moment? Please continue without me- I’ll be back shortly!” Be polite, straightforward, and kind. Let others know you appreciate and value your time with them, although your call or email needs to take priority right now.