Take Back Dinnertime With The Phone Stack

Stack of phones image by Flickr user gone-walkabout

I know a handful of people who can’t sit through an entire meal without looking at their phones. It starts with compulsive Foursquare checkins. (By the way, if you’re checking in on Foursquare at the grocery store, there’s a chance you’re a little too into it and completely missing the point of the service.) Then it’s “just this one email I’m waiting for,” followed by the ding of a text message… I’m sure you’ve been through the same meal. What? Is that text message more important than me? Then maybe you should have had dinner with that person instead.1

The Phone Stack is a game for when a) you’re that person and need to break the habit or b) you need to break a friend. How to play: Everyone puts their phones down on the table, face down, when they get there. The first person to give in and pick it up has to pay for dinner.

My own kids are pre-phone-owning age, but I’d love to hear how you’d adapt this to the family table with a house full of teenagers. Maybe the first one who grabs his phone has to do the dishes?

1 This is derived from my mother’s call-waiting policy, circa the mid-1980s when it became more common. If you clicked over to another call, she would hang up on you, citing that clearly you decided it was more important to talk to an unknown person rather than finish your conversation with her. I recognize that adopting this policy towards cell phones may mean I am now old and have turned into my mother. I accept that. Now put down your phone and finish talking to me.
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6 thoughts on “Take Back Dinnertime With The Phone Stack

  1. Love this idea, esp with adults at a dinner together. Our teens aren’t allowed to bring phones to the table either, but I might introduce this ‘game’ to them, so they can carry it out to their interactions with friends. My daughter often goes to places like Applebees with friends and I suspect half the time they’re there, they’re all on their phones, texting other people. (I’ve never used the word ‘there/they’re’ three times in a row before!)
    Love this post, and love the pic!


  2. I will allow my daughter to text occasionally until the food comes and then it’s off the table. At home- no phone at the table.

  3. I am not sure how it happened but phones have never come to our table. My husband’s goes on the bedside table when he comes home and my teenage son leaves it by his computer (mine, is ignored in my purse).

    Now my son has brought a small game platform (PSP, Gameboy) to a restaurant…but not to the table.

    Dinner talk I guess is interesting enough around our house that social phoning in not required. I take note of a whole conversation about the eyebrows the Mentat’s sport in the Dune movie…

    So Geek up the dinner talk and stop competing with your phones!

  4. My oldest son is getting his first phone for his birthday in a couple of months, and I plan to set up a basket in the kitchen at the same time for ALL phones to go into during mealtime…including Dad’s and mine. It’ll be good practice for Dad in setting a good example. 😉

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