Once upon a time, a King and Queen took their daughter and son, the Princess and Prince, out to dinner at their favorite diner. Eating out was a special occasion, and the entire family partook in conversation about their days, favorite books and movies, and upcoming events. They genuinely looked to be enjoying the family time...
If that scenario occurred in the present, it would read more like this: Once upon a time, a King and Queen took their children, the Prince and Princess out to their favorite restaurant: The King's Lair Diner. As the family sat down to dinner, all of the members put their respective blackberries on the table beside their place settings. Every other minute, a beep would be heard, and someone would pick up the phone and furiously start typing away. Conversation was limited to texted responses- "R U going 2 finish ur ff?" "IDK. FULLLLLLLL."
With technological advances appearing on a daily basis, people have been able to communicate via email and/or texting. The formality of writing letters has been replaced with incorrect grammar and informal sentences. Emotions are very difficult to ascertain without an overabundance of emoticons. LOL! :) Cousin Jackie, who types with all capital letters, always seems to be yelling at me, while Aunt Sue does the 3-sentenced email that never seems to finish any thoughts.
Don't get me wrong; people can now communicate on a regular basis. Waiting until you have time to speak on the telephone to catch up on each other's lives is no longer an issue; a quick email or text to say "hi, I am thinking of you" is a great way to maintain relationships. Unfortunately, there is a negative side to the informality and ease that is now accompanied by email and texting... Children are not learning social skills.
Eye contact is so important for humans (in the United States). It is what separates us from other species, providing us with the ability to have intimate relationships with friends and family. If the phone is placed on the breakfast, lunch or dinner table, the underlying message reads that the relationship with inanimate objects is more important than that with people. By putting the phone away during the family dinner, the grownups make it clear that the half hour spent with the family is a very important time of day. You will no longer have to wonder about the unspoken message behind the text. Instead you can just "talk it out" and never have to wonder.
According to webmd.com, family dinners will not only help you become reacquainted with your children, but you and your family will become healthier individuals as a result. Seriously, the benefits keep adding up...
Modeling social skills for children by making eye contact with other people at dinner will serve to be a lifelong lesson: put down the phone and start conversing. You might learn some pretty amazing information about the person across the table... And who knows, you may actually really enjoy the company of your family...once again.