Why Using Gadgets During Mealtimes is Damaging Your Child and How to Stop It?
As an occupational therapist and a parent, it breaks my heart to witness the epidemic of kids eating while glued to screens.
Yes, it is convenient and gives immediate results, as kids eat faster and better while focusing on their screens rather than on their plates.
Unfortunately, plugging kids into screens during meals is one of the greatest parenting traps that has devastating, long-term consequences.
What are kids being deprived of while being plugged into screens during meals?
- Practicing communication and social skills, such as eye contact and conversation skills
- Learning table manners
- Connecting to their family
- Learning to enjoy food and become a mindful eater
- Developing self-regulation, delay gratification, and attention
What are they getting while eating with gadgets?
- A sense of alienation
- Sensory overload
- Being preconditioned to eating under a high, continuous level of stimulation provided by screens
- Perceiving meals and social interaction as 'boring' when not paired with electronics
What should parents do?
1. Set a rule: 'No screens during meals.'
2. If your child is already addicted to eating with gadgets, then you need to re-condition your child's brain by replacing screens with a more stimulating eating process by:
- Throwing a dice and eating a corresponding number of spoons
- Eating with hinged chopsticks and a slide whistle spoon
- Eating from a food face or winner dinner plate
- Drinking from a worm straw
3. Gradually fade the process to a point that your child can eat without external stimulation.
Mealtime is a priceless time to connect to humans, not to screens. We have to bring back screen free mealtimes!