Kids watching videos in a restaurant: your opinion please

Tuned in, tuned out?

A friend told me  about an experience that left me with very mixed feelings.  She and her husband took her daughter, son-in-law and 2-year old toddler out dinner.  As soon as they sat down at the table, the daughter whipped out a video player and earphones and plugged the baby in to a Dora the Explorer video.  The little boy watched his video and the adults ate dinner.

Nifty idea, right?

I just don’t know. If we invite a child to dinner with his parents,  should we expect the young child to be part of the dinner? Isn’t this how a child learns about being sociable and about manners.? And most important, isns’t this one of the building blocks for experiencing the joy of a family being together, sharing conversation, ideas and family stories?

My friend (who is the soul of tact) didn’t say anything to her daughter but she was fuming about it afterwards.

Even though I wasn’t thrilled by the vision of a plugged in toddler at the restaurant table,  I did try to see it from the daugher’s perspective. We all remember how tired we were when we had a toddler running around the house. This was one way to have a meal undisturbed.

Let me know what you think.  Take the poll and leave a comment.



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3 Responses to Kids watching videos in a restaurant: your opinion please

  1. bailey sterrett says:

    I think this is situational. There are times when it’s perfectly ok for allow the child to watch a video while the adults dine. After all, the other diners are not being disturbed at all. But I do think it’s important to include children in meals both at home and at a restaurant. That’s how they learn. It also depends on what type of restaurant it is. If it’s kid-friendly place then I’d suggest forgetting about using the video.

  2. LB says:

    Kids learn what they see and what they are allowed to do. I bring crayons, toys, etc that can be shared (sometimes, we all color together at dinner). But shut off in TV land is not appropriate. Dining is a social experience. Social experiences require people to change their behavior and act for the good of the group.

    That said, I’m not unreasonable. We don’t take Kidlet to fancy pants gourmet restaurants where she is expected to sit still for long hours of time. We tend to go to places where she can walk around, be a little messy, color at the table, and where there’s room to do all stuff. If she melts, we get the check and leave.

    We also don’t linger too long, and make sure she’s not starving and grumpy when we get there. It’s a compromise, but Kidlet is learning what kind of behavior is expected when she goes out. Here’s the big thing: it’s not all that different from eating at home.

  3. Andy McLaughlin says:

    This is where the rubber meets the road! Bring a kid to dinner (regardless of age). From 4 Michelen stars to a local diner, you had better be prepared to engage them and include them in the meal, know which foods they’ll eat and help them experiment with new foods.

    Dining out needs to be special for everyone (even if because of you’re life circumstances you do it more often than not). Every restaurant has unique and fun features. It might be the decor, unique menu items to try, interesting decor, or often fun people who work in the restaurant.

    Here’s the point — no need to have everyone’s head stuck in their Nintendo DS, parents in their iPhone or Blackberry and grandparents stuck somewhere in between. Shut the power off. Taste something new, take a look at the decor and say hello to your server!

    Just my thoughts . . . .

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