Technology During Dinnertime? Mother Says NO! III: Closer Relationships, Attachment, and Busy Lifestyles

Technology During Dinnertime? Mother Says NO! III: Closer Relationships, Attachment, and Busy Lifestyles

Increasing Communication

Participants noticed that having no technology during the mealtime has made them closer by increasing their communication. They noticed it affected their family relationships as they observed more interaction among family members and more memories being created. They reported it has been affecting their relationship by permitting an opportunity to know more details about what is going on in their lives, and additionally, it allows them to ask and reflect about specific questions.

Monica noticed her relationship growing stronger by engaging in conversation about their daily routine.

Um, we’re just closer. We’re tighter. We just have that moment where we all ask about our, each other’s day, whether it was good or bad. (Monica, 1st interview)

She reported that talking about and knowing the details of each person’s day facilitated the ability to understand what the family member had been through that day.

Um, communication, so we talk a lot more around the table … uh, which is key to knowing, uh, details of everyone’s day and also to understand what’s happening. (Monica, 1st interview)

She described mealtime as a place to ask exclusive questions about events. And she noticed those questions stimulating reflections.

When we’re around the table that we can ask, “How did you like us going to the ROM?” “What was your favorite part?” Cause sometimes when you’re at the site or at an activity you’re experiencing but you don’t have time to uh talk to the children and what they enjoyed or, or what they would like to do more. So it’s also a chance for us to sit and ask about that or ask specific questions: “what was your favorite part?” You know, it’s just- it’s like a quiet moment where the kids can actually think and focus on that, on that one point. (Monica, 2nd interview)

Sally noticed communication affecting her family relationship by observing her family relating better and making memories.

It’s the idea that all of us are present in a space and interacting, communicating. Being with each other, that creates time spent together that creates a bond that creates memories, communication. (Sally, 2nd interview)

So we start talking about things and communication increases closeness so yeah. (Sally, 2nd interview)

Olivia, however, reported observing this increase in the communication being extended to other relationships.

And, and I think it’s also helped our relationships with other people. Um, as we learned to talk and discuss and debate and to ask about each other, we take that into the workplace and we take that into our relationships with other people. (Olivia, 1st interview)

 Brie’s reflection was simple and clear.

Um, just cause we’re able to talk. (Brie, 1st interview)

If everybody’s involved in a conversation, and, yeah, topic of conversation, if everybody’s engaged, involved and . . . talking about whatever we’re talking about. (Brie, 2nd interview)

Developing Social Skills

Participants maintained that having no technology during the mealtime improved their relationship by increasing social skills, such as learning to problem solve, to advocate for themselves, to respect others’ opinions, and to share their ideas. They learned empathy, how to be supportive, and also how to rectify their mistakes.

Sally described this fact affecting her family relationship by allowing her children to help them when solving each other’s problems.

Its a chance to really contribute to um being a part of solving each other’s problems and, and we do have lots of laughs and you know there’s uh by the time we finish dinner there’s a lot of silliness going on. Yep. (Sally, 2nd interview)

Olivia described how mealtime interactions affected her family relationships, and how it teaches family members to discuss different opinions without getting upset with each other. If also teaches them about how to come to an agreement and how to rectify their mistakes.

She noticed it affecting her family members by teaching them about empathy, feelings, and mutual support.

Um, we learn how to disagree without getting angry. We learn how to agree to disagree. We learn how to come to agreement when, when we do disagree about something. We learned to share and to ask about each other. My kids have learned empathy when somebody is having a hard day, to ask how are they feeling and how can we help and we support each other. And if somebody is being mean we’re all on that person’s side to, to, to help them get through it and do what we need to do to, to rectify the situation. Um, we’ve become closer. (Olivia, 1st interview)

Increasing Bonding

Participants noticed that having no technology during the mealtime has increased the bonding in their relationships. They believed that this fact made their relationships stronger, made members closer to each other. Their interactions with each other happened more frequently, and they noticed this bond between family members happening easily.

Monica reported noticing that not having technology has made her relationship warmer and stronger.

Um, we’re just closer. We’re tighter. We just have that moment where we all ask about our, each other’s day, whether it was good or bad. (Monica, 1st interview)

Sally described how better relationships developed as a consequence of not allowing technology during mealtime.

This has been a factor in improving our connections. (Sally, 1st interview)

She described this unique place full of union and love.

I hope that that time where technology is not in the family has allowed us to connect and, and be closer or allowed the kids to, um, be kids minus technology and not be kids with technology all the time. (Sally, 1st interview)

She reflected on this interaction allowing members to construct special memories.

It’s the idea that all of us are present in a space and interacting, communicating. Being with each other, that creates time spent together that creates a bond that creates memories, communication. (Sally, 2nd interview)

Allison observed her family closeness increasing when electronic devices are not around.

So it was that, that bonding time that, um, you can’t get if you just, you know, sit, like, sit each on the chair and just go on your computer. So that personal time, that connection, um, I will always remember that. And I think that started when they just started talking, like just . . . just talk to each other and, um, old-school. So I think it, um, it brings, it brings people together in a way that you can’t do with technology. (Allison, 1st interview)

 So I, I think that, um, there is, like, again, there is a place for technology but it can’t replace the, the contact that you have . . . with people (laughs). (Allison, 1st interview)

Just um engage instead of always using technology. (Allison, 2nd interview)

She also described other members returning to the table after eating just to accompany other family members that got home later.

So we try to make um like you-yesterday for example we ate earlier cause the one doesn’t like eating so late so we ate with him and then the other two came home and so we sat with them as well. (Allison, 2nd interview)

 When we have-for example yesterday when we had-when D. wanted to eat earlier because [inaudible] eating later but K.’s not off until 8 o’clock with her dance, and S. was at the gym so we sat down and D. goes where’s where’s S.? Why isn’t he here? Well he’s at the gym. Okay. (laughs). And then-this-then S. came home to eat, w-well where’s D. ? Where’s D.? Why is he not here? So they do uh- Yeah, it’s funny the way they-they do look for each other and-the way, they do it’s funny to see them connect even if-like they’ll, D. will say something and-and S. will just like you know burst out laughing and it’s-it’s not even that the whole story’s there, that they can kind of understand each other already, so it-it’s nice to see not just even talking about their day, but just you know even like the banter that they have. (Allison, 2nd interview)

 Allison also described mealtimes as a conscious effort and choice of her family members.

Um . . . I think it’s because it’s . . . sometimes during the day with how busy things get if it wasn’t for the mealtime they probably wouldn’t um . . . have those moments right? Because the-they do talk but I mean they come in at different times. The one’s, like I said, one’s at hockey, one’s at this. So I guess it’s-it’s a conscious effort to sit down and actually, and they actually look forward to it too like. Like-y-y-y-you don’t really realize all that until you start thinking about it. (Allison, 2nd interview)

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About the Author

Camilla MoreiraCamilla was born in Brazil and came to Canada with a degree in Psychology from the Catholic University of Pernambuco (UNICAP). She obtained her Master of Psychology from Adler Graduate Professional School. Camilla is a registered psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO), and a member of the Ontario Association of Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists (OACCPP) as well as the Canadian Association for Child and Play Therapy (CAPT). She has Level I, II, III certifications in play therapy as well as in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Camilla has experience in providing individual therapeutic services to children, youth and adults diagnosed with depression, behavioural problems, and anxiety (GAD, PTSD, separation anxiety, fears, phobia, and OCD). Her passions include spending time with her family, traveling, reading, children, and the ocean.

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