I’ve had many weird experiences during my time as a waitress. Being paid by a customer with a cracked, bleeding skull, eating like there was nothing wrong. Calling Child Protective Services because a mother was hitting her 3-year-old with sticks, during dinner. Having my boss escort the waitresses to their cars because of suggestive customers. You name it, I’ve probably witnessed or experienced it, but one of the saddest changes has been the introduction of technology into the family meal.
I had a group of regular customers, a family of eight or nine – I can’t remember now – with at least seven of those being children under age 10. Every one of them had an iPad and played their downloaded games throughout dinner, as the mother hid their iPads when one misbehaved. This is what I mean by the “introduction of technology.”
As a kid, my family would always eat together at the dinner table. It didn’t matter what my brother and I were doing, but once dinner was made, we were told to return home. Times have changed, but my family still makes it a point to eat together whenever possible. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons this way.
On any given day, half of my customers would be staring at their cell phones throughout the entire meal. Parents, children, entire families. Frequently, I experienced entire appetizer, meal, dessert durations of time spent with each party barely speaking to one another. Whatever was on the other side of their screens was obviously more important than the person present.
Teenagers are the worst with cell phones. Probably about 95 percent of my teenage customers were constantly on their cell phones, texting, talking, instagramming, playing games, vining. What is the obsession about?
I can’t act hypocritical here, because myself, along with everyone else (I’m sure) is guilty. However, I can’t understand the benefit of parents introducing their children to this behavior. When I received a cell phone, it was before the era of smart phones, and my parents wouldn’t allow excessive use at the dinner table. Now, parents and children alike are sitting, side-by-side, texting.
Even though technology has such a positive impact on our society, it’s tearing us apart. Families don’t communicate nearly as much as they should, and cell phones are ruining quality time spent with others. Children are missing out on life lessons, because they’re distracted. Parents are resorting to their cell phones and ignoring their children.
Next time you take a trip to your local restaurant, take a look around and note ALL the people on their phones. You’ll be surprised. Even though I experienced it almost every day, I was always taken aback.