Woman sparks fierce parenting row after she slams friend for letting kids use iPads over dinner

15 August 2019, 17:19

One person has argued iPads should be put away at restaurants
One person has argued iPads should be put away at restaurants. Picture: Getty Images
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

Is it ever okay to let your kids use their tablets while eating dinner? Parents spark fierce debate online...

One person has sparked fierce debate online after asking whether it’s acceptable for kids to use their tablets while at the dinner table.

The unnamed Mumsnet user explained that she had gone to a restaurant to meet her friend who also brought along her two young children aged five and three.

But while they were chatting over lunch, the kids were playing games and watching videos loudly on their iPads.

She said: “I was struggling to hear why my friend was saying and she didn’t seem to be phased.

“I tried to hint and say... ‘Awww can you turn the volume a little low, I can't hear mummy’, but she didn't even react.

“I then pressed the button on one of the children’s iPads turning the volume halfway down, thinking she would to the same to the other. But no!”

Should children be allowed their iPads at the dinner table?
Should children be allowed their iPads at the dinner table? Picture: Getty Images

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She then added: “I have no kids, but am I being unreasonable to think iPads on full volume in a restaurant is disturbing?”

And users on the forum were totally divided by the dilemma, with some blasting the mum as “rude” and others arguing it’s perfectly reasonable for the children to use technology over the table.

“This is a bug bear of mine. I hate it,” slammed one mum, as another agreed: “I don't think that children 'need' iPads to stay amused at restaurants, mine don't.”

A third reasoned: “The iPads are fine (each to their own) but full volume and disturbing other diners isn't acceptable.”

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While a fourth hit back: “My children have iPads if we're out but the rules are not until we have ordered and they go away as soon as the food comes and if I hear the sound they get taken away.”

Another suggested that using iPads is actually the opposite of rude, as they suggested: “Going against the grain on this one, but if you don't have kids and you arrange to meet a friend with 2 children at a restaurant to catch up then she definitely would have wanted to try to keep her kids entertained in the easiest form so she could actually talk with you.”

When it comes to monitoring kids’ screen time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a maximum of one hour a day of “high-quality programming” for children under six.

After that age, they then encourage parents to “place consistent limits on the time spent using media”.

Jocelyn Brewer, a psychologist who specialises in the concept, told The Guardian that iPads and phones shouldn’t be used to ‘distract or pacify’ children.

“We know that using screens to soothe or pacify kids sets up some concerning patterns of relying on devices to calm or distract a child (or teen, or adult) from their experience of unpleasant or uncomfortable emotions,” she said.

Before adding: “So we want to avoid using screens to placate tantrums, just like we want to avoid eating ‘treats’ to calm emotional storms.”