One family restaurant in the U.K. has developed a plan to entice parents to digitally discipline themselves in order to connect families during mealtime.
Frankie & Benny's, a popular Italian restaurant in the U.K., recently launched a new promotion which offers free meals for children as long as their parents are willing to ditch their cell phones and/or tablets during their meal.
According to Today, Frankie & Benny's "no-phone zone" offer came to fruition after a survey conducted by the restaurant found that of 1,500 people, nearly 20% of children felt that their parents use their phones for conversation during mealtime. Around 23% of parents who were surveyed said that they often checked their phones during meal time, usually when their children were speaking. 10% of children who were surveyed said that they had even hid or attempted to hide their parents' phones before meal times.
"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," Susan Atkins, a parenting expert, was quoted as saying in a press release from the restaurant. "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."
The "no-phone zone" began on November 27th and has been quite popular so far, the restaurant reports. There are no plans in sight to end the promotion on a certain date so as long as parents continue to "digitally discipline" themselves during meal time at Frankie & Benny's, the restaurant is likely to continue offering free meals for kids.
Frankie & Benny's is hopeful that their new campaign will not only set a strong example for children to not obsess over their digital devices but will strengthen the bond within the entire family unit as well. Mealtime, especially dinner, is a great time for families to reconnect with one another and discuss what happened that day. It doesn't have to be serious talk. Families can connect by telling jokes, funny stories or talking about the best thing that happened during each person during the day.
Of course, parents who are glued to their phones are still welcome to the restaurant but their children's' meals will not be comped. Frankie & Benny's says that they do "actively encourage" the promotion but remind all patrons that it is completely optional.
Many U.K. residents are pleased with the digital-free deal but some have expressed outrage via social media that Frankie & Benny's would try to control families in this way and are quick to point out that the restaurant offers free WiFi which seems hypocritical to them. What do you think of this plan? Are you a fan? Let us know in the comments!