Updated on


Just as it is bad practice to watch TV while eating or play computer games in your history class, so is the habit of cell phone use during meals. Especially if the mealtime in question is centered around family, friends, or a treasured occasion.

The use of tech gadgets at the dinner table goes against basic cell phone etiquette because it is distractive. It will keep the real you AWAY from family and friends!

So? Ditch the habit!

Multitasking on the dinner table should be checked as well even when you are dining alone. Sometimes you REALLY need to take time off and unplug from tech.

Of course, there are moments you will need to keep your mobile phone close to you for understandable reasons. Notably when you expect emergency calls that could be the difference between life and death or an appointment with your doctor.

However, such emergencies come far apart and should be kept that way.

Otherwise, put your phone in silent mode – and if it is not too much to ask, turn it off completely! This won’t last an hour, surely, and won’t kill you either.

The following are reasons why cell phone use during meals is not cool:


1. It Is Plain Rude

It is plain rude to use your phone badly in public

You are being rude or disrespectful when you use your mobile phone to make calls, send text messages or surf the internet while dining with family or friends.

When you choose to sit down with those close to you, appreciate their presence and make the moment last.

This should not be too much to ask. When family and friends dine with you and have visibly placed their phones aside, take note.

As a whole, meal times are supposed to add up to the few moments in your day, when you just need to be PRESENT, and savor the smell, taste, and sight of the food in front of you.

It is also disrespectful to use your phone in public restaurants, where other patrons have to shrug off your audible conversations. You are ruining their mealtime as well.

According to a Pew research in 2018, cell phone use in gatherings annoyed those close by.

82% of all adults (not just cell owners) say that when people use their cellphones at social gatherings, it at least occasionally hurts the conversation and atmosphere of the gathering. Some 37% say it “frequently” hurts the gathering and another 45% say it “occasionally” hurts the gathering, while only 18% say it “rarely” or “never” hurts the gathering.


2. It Turns You Into a Fussy Eater

We are unhealthy
Cell phone use maims your ability to pay full attention to your meal

It is pretty obvious that indulgence with your mobile phone will distract you from eating normally.

In any case, you spend more time swiping away than touching your food.

When the mind is taken up by the smartphone screen, it will under-utilize the smell, taste, and sight senses which are all closely linked to eating. And because the body does not get to appreciate these and other important eating senses, your ability to enjoy food diminishes.

Ultimately you lose control on how food actually tastes, smells, and looks, and the good virtues that come with eating. You will easily to playing with your meal instead of eating it.

You will most likely develop a liking for snacking and crave sweetened drinks simply because they complement your newly acquired disorder. Snacks and cola are easy to acquire and have no eating time table.

Since they are loaded with simple calories and sugars, snacks are absorbed fast, and make your body crave for more every other hour or so.


3. It Leads to Bad Health

Fussy eating mentioned above may build up into two different situations which are detrimental to your health. You may lose interest in food altogether and only eat a little to keep the body alive.

Second, you may find yourself overeating. The second happens to be the common side effect owing to the extended periods you stay on your cell phone.

According to the Health Sciences Department, Universidade Federal de Lavras, and Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil,  and the Department of Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery, Prosthodontics and Special Dental Care, University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, cell phone use during meals increases caloric ingestion,

The use of smartphones during meals may possibly influence the number of ingested calories… Eating with distracters increased approximately 15% caloric ingestion… Smartphone use during a meal increased caloric and lipid intake, depending on sex and age in young adults with complete dentition.

Overall, cell phone abuse during and after mealtimes can lead to numerous medical conditions such as,

  • tech neck
  • obesity, which can lead to diabetes in the long run
  • facilitates the transfer of germs from the touch screen to your food and mouth
  • exposure to cell phone radiation

4. A Bad Example to Children

The untethered attention you give that smartphone badly affects your parenting skills. Unfortunately for you, the children too are watching, and learning!

The vast majority of us carry our phones to the dining table without much thought. The uncontrollable attachment we accord them makes us go through meals oblivious of those in our company.

These include children!

You do not see your children face to face, let alone finding out if they are enjoying their meals.

Mealtimes are meant to be QUIET, at least in the eyes of several cultures around the world, but come to think of it, this could be the perfect moment to interact and find out more about your children.

Just imagine what you can exchange with them during this time:

  • Find out from them what should grace the next meal
  • Find out about their well-being
  • Update them on family news and values
  • Find out about their progress at school
  • Let them know why tech is disruptive at the dinner table.

Of course, keep it to a minimum to ensure the food on the table is the ultimate priority.

Trust me, you do this, and you are bringing up responsible children, very much capable of handling tech mischief even in your absence.


5. Cell Phone Use During Meals Denies You True Happiness

cell phone missuse can lead to unhappiness
Cell phone misuse can lead to unhappiness

Here is the other thing, indulgence in phubbing, or other activities that sway your mind from eating will also affect your well-being with real people, and this may happen subconsciously.

The subconscious effects may not seem important in the short run, but will actually affect your health negatively, and maim your ability to relate with others. This can happen in the short and long run, and can seriously stunt your social skills and development.

Cell phone use during meals affects how you relate and feel about those around you because you talk less and see little of each other.

When your mind is preoccupied with what is on the other side of the phone, you gradually lose interest in people around you. You also become sad.

According to a study done by the University of British Columbia, phone use in the wrong places may deny you the enjoyment derived from real life social interactions. Dinner table interactions included.

Participants were randomly assigned to keep their phones on the table or to put their phones away during the meal. When phones were present (vs. absent), participants felt more distracted, which reduced how much they enjoyed spending time with their friends/family.


Try to get your life back by declaring no phone zones in your life. One of these zone free places should the dining table.


Other cool stuff to read: