No Phones at the Dinner Table: How is Technology Impacting our Family Values?

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No Phones at the Dinner Table: How is Technology Impacting our Family Values?

When was the last time you and your family sat together for a meal at the dinner table, or played a game, or simply managed to spend some quality time together? In today’s world of technological distractions, it often feels impossible to find time to spend together.

Addicted to the Internet

Many of us feel this way. A recent Family Values survey conducted by Real Insurance found that around 90% of respondents feel technology and social media are disrupting families from spending quality time together. Indeed, technology addiction is having a very real impact on our lives. Teenagers spend nearly 9 hours every day consuming media, the equivalent of an entire day’s work. Adults however are no better. A recent study by Common Sense found that parents spend the same amount of time in front of various screens. Of those, only one hour is for work; the other 8 are for personal use.

These kinds of statistics have prompted reactions from various organisations worldwide. Just recently, two of Apple’s largest investors urged the company to do something about smartphone addiction amid growing concerns that children are becoming addicted to technology and social media. Similarly, the World Health Organization recently classified gaming disorder as a mental health issue, prompting several government to introduce Internet addiction centres for young people and adults.

Technology at Home

Whilst recognition from these organisations and leaders is helpful, the problem starts at home. How our teenager copes with anxiety in childhood will affect the way they deal with stress as an adult. Technology can act as a distraction from the real world; it is a place where you can switch off, immerse yourself in or escape to. Not only does this leave our children ill equipped to deal with any uncomfortable or difficult situation later in life, but it also provides them with an unrealistic view of the world.

Many blame social media in particular. It has the ability to make our children self-entitled, apathetic and materialistic. Many want the latest gadgets or clothes to show off to their friends and are concerned solely with their appearance.


Family Dynamic

These attitudes are clearly out of touch with traditional family values. However, simply banning our children from going online doesn’t solve the problem. Whether we like it or not, social media and gaming is an essential part of socialising for today’s youngsters. For parents then, the difficulty is where to draw the line and determining what’s appropriate to view.

Considering the amount of time adults also spend online, parents must bear some of the responsibility for crumbling family values. Real Insurance’s Family Values survey also found that over three quarters of respondents felt parents focus more on cultivating a ‘picture perfect’ family to post online. After all, our children see us as role models. If we spend most of our downtime glued to a screen, so will they.

If we want our children to have strong moral values, it’s important for parents to lead by example. Whilst it’s tempting to scroll through your phone or browse the Internet after a hard day’s work, its essential that technology doesn’t stop us from communicating with our children.

The Value of Technology

Technology cannot be held solely responsible for shifting values. In fact, technology once helped bring us together. Take for instance the television. We used to watch it as a family. But these days, with access to streaming services and online videos – as well as an abundance of smartphones and tablets in the modern household – it’s often hard to encourage the whole family to sit down and watch just one thing.

A large number of us think that TV, film and streaming services have influenced a shift in family values. The Family Values survey found that many of us believe modern media places less emphasis on moral and religious values, exposing us to a general lack of manners and respect.

Yet technology also has the ability to unite families from across the world. It helps us connect with those closest and dearest to us, no matter where we are on the planet. Similarly, social media provides us with opportunities to learn and gain a more global perspective.

The older we are, the more new technology is treated with generational trepidation and scepticism. This has always been the case. Indeed, parents once worried about the negative impact of television, an almost comical concern by today’s standards. Hence, it is less about the technology itself and more about the relationship we encourage our children to have with it. How to behave online is a new social skill, one that parents can instil in their children in a very traditional way. Putting down the phone and making sure we spend quality time together will insure our children are compassionate and caring individuals, both in life and online.

Want to read more? See how caregivers are so distracted by their phones it is putting children at risk here…


Katie -


Katie is the Managing Director and Editor of Mums of Brisbane. Most days will find her drinking copious amounts of coffee, cuddling her kids and trying not to step barefoot on lego. Katie lives in Beautiful Brisbane with her husband and four gorgeous children.