Everybody knows family mealtimes should be a time for connection … with one another, NOT devices.
But like most good advice, it’s a lot easier said than done. Banning phones is easy (relatively). Cultivating true connection? Not so much.
Thankfully, there are clever ways you can hack your tech-free mealtimes to ensure a more nourishing experience for everyone.
First, let’s let’s review the case for putting your precious energy into proper, sit-down family meals. It’s a pretty persuasive one.
(And btw, when we say “proper” we don’t mean meat and three veg, lovingly - or resentfully - prepared by mum. We mean any meal, prepared by anybody, including your favourite take-out joint, which family members consume while sitting at a common, screen-free table.)
The impact of family meals on kids has been studied to death, and the range of benefits is as overwhelming as it is impressive. They include
For young children, family meals have been linked to better vocabulary, while for teens, a lack of family meals is directly associated with disruptive behaviour, academic problems and an increase in alcohol and drug use.
And there’s more good news for time-crunched parents. Recent research shows kids can reap these benefits from as little as three family dinners a week.
But here’s the catch. First, you need to get kids to sit down long enough to eat healthily and connect meaningfully.
Recent research shows kids can reap benefits from as little as three family dinners a week.
Because when you ban tech, your good intentions can backfire. In fact, going phone-free may even have the opposite effect - leading kids to race through their meal to return to their beloved screens - and engage in even less real-life conversation.
The solution? A mealtime plan that includes, but isn’t limited to, a ban on screens. Here’s what the experts recommend:
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