Dinner and TV viewing
About three-quarters of Australian families eat dinner together five or six times a week, but 60 per cent ''always or often'' eat in front of the television, according to research by Rebecca Huntley of Ipsos Mackay. (link)
I will stand up and admit that I am often one of these. I eat in front of the TV (DVD to be accurate as we rarely watch TV - very little worth watching). My secret is out. Only yesterday evening my son and I watched an excellent documentary on the Amazon and Andes followed by a discussion on fish (all whilst eating our dinner)! I occasionally watch the news, but that is more likely to cause indigestion!
OK, I can hear you all say that this is bad, really bad. And, of course it is . . . eating at the table should be the time to talk about the day without the interruptions from the TV, computer, computer games, smart phones and work. It is an important time to interact and learn more about each other. No wonder so many families really don't know each other very well these days . . . they never set aside the time to develop meaningful relationships. This is particularly the case with teenagers, who are more likely to be rushing here and there with after school activities, homework and friends. Some research has found that teenagers who sit down to family meals are less likely to be depressed or take risks with drugs, alcohol and sex (link) and that does make sense to me.
Sadly many families have lost the ability to eat together and enjoy a conversation and for some children . . . they never enjoyed the experience of sitting together as a family.
For most couples with children, the working day is usually spent apart, after which come school pick-ups, sport drop-offs, domestic chores. Meanwhile, smart phones and computers bring the stresses and distractions of work into the home, and out of office hours. They also encourage habituation: checking and browsing for a ''hit'', not because the job requires it. As a result, there are very few minutes left to speak to one another without interruption or diversion. Relationships fray for lack of intimacy.
I grew up in a home without a TV, we only ate at the table (unless we were sick in bed) and I have very fond memories of those mealtimes. I can remember many conversations (quite noisy with 3 brothers) whilst enjoying a nutritious meal that my mother had cooked. I can remember these meals because I wasn't focused on something else and that is also very important.
I wonder how many family problems, from marriage breakups to dysfunction children can be linked to families not eating together?
TV is simply one more player in the daily competition for attention along with computers, smart phones, electronic games etc.
|How true is that - especially when the sport is on.|