5 Uses for Electronics at the Dinner Table | Kids Out and About Nashville

5 Uses for Electronics at the Dinner Table

by Stacy Curtis

It may seem counterintuitive, but there are uses for electronics at the dinner table. I've resisted the "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" theory for too long on this. Now, I recognize that if I can't beat these electronic urges (mine included), I need to make them work for me. 

Electronics are often villified because they reduce human interaction. But...what if electronics at the dinner table were used to INCREASE human interaction? Or even teach something of value? Now that's making electronics work FOR you as a parent.

First, let me congratulate you for even getting your family all together at the dinner table. That is an accomplishment to be celebrated. If everyone in my family eats roughly the same meal, in the same location, at the same time, once or twice per week, I call it a success. Now, let's explore positive uses for electronics at the dinner table:


Allow one person to showcase their favorite music at each dinner. Pull up Pandora, Amazon Music, or your favorite music app and listen. This is a great way to celebrate each person's individual tastes as well as learn something new about them. Discuss the music (kindly, please), the artists or music groups, why it resonates with the family member, or the similarities/differences between genres. What a great way to practice showing respect, exploring new things, and finding everything fascinating.


Repeat after me..."Wikipedia is our friend!" Well it can be if you have one person pull up Wikipedia at the dinner table and read the homepage feature "On This Day..." Find out what happened in history back in the 1400's, the 1800's, all the way to recent history. This is good practice reading aloud and reading for an audience. Encourage every person at the table to respond to the events and contribute their thoughts. Do they agree or disagree? Are there other facts they could contribute? Adults can connect these events to the world today and share their wisdom. Perhaps you'll even be setting the stage for a future comedian, debate team member, actor, or presidential candidate!


Both Android phones and iPhones have free conversation starter apps that you can leverage. I absolutely love these! My kids now groan when I bring pull up Conversation Starter Help, and they tell me to "Put away the phone, Mom!" But I use it anyway {smirk}. Random questions pop up that everyone can answer, such as: If you could only eat one food and nothing else for three days in a row, what would it be? What three words best describe you? What's the one thing you'd like to be remembered for? And so many more. Often, they end up talking all over each other offering opinions. Adults get a chance to express themselves in ways they don't often get to with their kids, and you learn a whole lot more about your kids than they'll tell you naturally.


The dinner table is a great place to share and laugh. On their smart phone or table, allow kids to pull up apps for jokes (Yo Momma, Knock Knock, Kids Jokes, and more) and let everyone take a turn at telling a joke. It's really a thrill when you hear your child repeat a dinner-table joke to a friend. Benefits? Think memorization, timing, and reading aloud. Trivial facts and trivia game apps are good for this too. Trivia games abound on electronics, so take your pick and enjoy. A while back we even discovered a trivia game on the back of a Heinz Ketchup bottle at a restaurant. It has a QR code to scan with your phone. That takes you directly to www.HeinzTableGames.com where you can turn it into a family competition. Truth....my kids now look at all the ketchup bottles in restaurants and are actually disappointed when they don't see it.


Realistically, how often do you have everyone together and can chat with friends and family far away? If you're like my family, not nearly enough. Though this is better served for a really casual meal time, why not take the opportunity while everyone is together to Facetime or Skype with someone you love? We are often so busy that we fail to make connections with these long-distance friends and family. Or the adults connect while on the run and kids are left out of the conversation. Make it a habit to dial up one person a week and pass the phone around (yes, while you're eating) and allow those at a distance to join in your conversation. It might just be the only time you can do such a thing all month.

I know what you're thinking..."I can't wait to plan my next family dinner and try these out!" I know, me too. If you have additional ideas for electronics at the dinner table, please send them to stacy@kidsoutandabout.com.

© 2015, KidsOutAndAbout.com

Stacy Curtis is KidsOutAndAbout editor for our Texas sites.

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