A U.K.-based restaurant, Frankie & Benny's chain is offering an incentive to parents. The restaurant will give free meals to children whose parents don’t use their cell phones during dinner.
The family-style restaurant Frankie & Benny’s launched the “no-phone zone” promotion after they conducted a survey of 1,500 people to see how the use of cell phones affected dinnertime. The findings blew them away and warranted their campaign.
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The survey found that nearly 20 percent of children felt their parents preferred to be on their phones during meals instead of talking to them. About 23 percent of parents admitted they checked their cell phones during meals.
Many even admitted that they check their phones even their children are talking to them. 10 percent of children admitted they've hidden their parents’ phones in an attempt to get them to focus on themselves.
“We should exert some control over our phone use, to minimize the potential negative impact on our children”―Maryam Abdullah, Ph.D.
The restaurant decided they needed to help combat the trend of parents focusing on their cellphones instead of their family's. The New York-style Italian restaurant developed an initiative to offer free meals for kids when parents give up their devices.
"Children spell love T-I-M-E and by putting away screens parents are sending the message that their children are important to them and that can only be good for family time. Parents are role models in everything that they do and in everything that they say, so by managing their own screen time parents are teaching their kids by example about when and where technology use is appropriate." said parenting expert Susan Atkins in a press release from the restaurant.
The promotion was launched on November 27. Since then Frankie & Benny’s provide a special box for parents to store their devices in during the meal.
The initiative is completely optional. However, the restaurant is “actively encouraging” parents to participate.
"That’s a good thing. It’s a shame you can’t sit & have dinner without a cellphone right beside you!" tweeted one user in response to the restuarants announcement