Do you use your mobile phone at the dinner table?  Ever been out to dinner and found yourself scrolling through email or Facebook or twitter?  I do – a lot!  So when I was challenged to go a week without technology at meal time I wasn’t sure how I’d cope!

The simple fact is – we do it.  We use our phones at meal time.  67% of Aussies admit to using their personal devices at meal time.  It’s hard to avoid given we’re spending 4-6 hours a day using these devices!

It’s not just a simple message or reading an email – In research commissioned by KFC, one in four said they use their devices for five minutes or more at meal time.

My kids and I at breakfast time - my phone and their iPod touch are in the KFC bucket!

My kids and I at breakfast time – my phone and their iPod touch are in the KFC bucket!

On the flip-side we’re certainly getting frustrated with our family and friends doing just that, with three in four Aussies saying their family and friends check their phones too much during meal time.

The KFC Bucket at our home where the mobiles go at Meal time (This week)

The KFC Bucket at our home where the mobiles go at Meal time (This week)

So KFC is asking us to “Stop & Smell the Chicken” or whatever else it might be.  At their Northmead store this week you can get a special limited edition mobile-collection bucket to put all your phones and personal devices in while you eat.

At the same time they challenged me – could I go a week without using technology at meal time?  Not just me – my whole family!   To make it more real – KFC sent my family a couple of empty KFC buckets to use at meal time – and while the kids think it’s a hoot that mum and dad have to put their phones in a bucket – it’s a challenge for us.

Meal time for three kids under 7 can take a long, long time – so the frustration of getting the kids to eat can give way to a bit of checking of the phone, browsing social media or who knows what.  That way we can wait out the meal time for the kids.

It’s a bigger challenge though when you’re alone.  Sitting at work eating lunch with no-one around – it’s almost like the phone and social media are a companion.

KFC’s challenge to me was to go seven days without technology at meal time – we started on Saturday, and while I thought it would be difficult, I actually found myself leaving the phone in the bucket for many hours after meal time – perhaps this little challenge is teaching me more about thinking twice about using my phone all the time, not just at meal time.

Digging into the research KFC commissioned (Which was conducted by Nine Rewards and covered a sample of 1,055 Australians aged between 14 and 44) we can also see that men were more likely to check their personal devices over dinner – but not by a big margin, just 3% difference, 70% for men compared to 67% for women.  Yet women were more likely to be frustrated by others checking their phones (79% compared to 67%)

I tell you one thing though, I never expected the Laptop to be the second most common device for people to use at meal time.  The devices people use on a regular basis are:

  • Smartphone/mobile (94%)
  • Laptop (76%)
  • PCs (56%)
  • iPad/iPad mini (47%)
  • Tablets (24%)

So, what’s your meal time look like?  No Phones?  Plenty of people have told me it was already a rule at their home, and it could quickly become a rule for our home – but the question is – what is your regular pattern like now?  Are you taking time to “Stop and Smell the Chicken?


Disclosure: Trevor Long has a commercial agreement with KFC for the period of the meal-time challenge