Will Ferrell stars in a short new public service announcement about cell phone use presented by Common Sense Media. The video takes place at the dinner table where three children take turns expressing just how much they miss their presumably absent father. The mother is sympathetic to their plight but realizes there's nothing she can do to bring their daddy back to them. Their situation seems futile.
And then the camera turns to Will Ferrell. Take a look:
It's a nice sentiment, but what does the research say?
The research agrees. Using cell phones during dinnertime negatively affects the family dynamic.
From a social standpoint, a study cited in this TIME article reports that 88 percent of 3,000 participants agree that phone use during family dinner is inappropriate. In fact, the name of the article is "Everyone Hates When You Use Your Phone at Dinner." With that title in mind, it's not hard to see how the following studies also come into play in the dining room:
This study found that "nearly 9 out of 10 people say that at least once a week, their friends or family stop paying attention to them in favor of something happening on their digital devices."
This study found that parents who are on their phones are ignoring their children (not hard to believe).
In fact, this study shows that the mere physical presence of a cell phone (whether it's being used or not) takes a toll on face-to-face interaction.
Be smart with your smartphone
A smartphone is a powerful tool. It comes in handy when we need it, but it can also become a serious addiction and can negatively impact our real-life relationships. For that to occur at the dinner table (or anywhere) is tragic.
So, don't follow Will Ferrell's humorous example in this PSA. When it comes to dinner time, be there for your kids - be there with your kids.