Is it appropriate to use cell phones at the dinner table?

University of Michigan explores appropriateness of usage during meals


It's 2016 and we rely on technology more than ever before. From texting to posting photos on social media, people of all ages use their smartphones for a variety of things.

But when is it appropriate to use your cellular device?

A new study from the University of Michigan explores how people use cell phones during meals and how they feel about other people doing so. The researchers surveyed more than 1,000 people between the ages of eight and 88 around the world.

The survey found that people's attitudes of using a cell phone at dinner depends heavily on what you are doing, and who is at the table.

The researchers found that not all phone use is viewed the same. For example, texting and answering a phone call are both considered more appropriate than using social media.

This might have to do with time, because texting and talking on the phone are both brief activities, wheres using social media can take a lot longer. This was true for adults in the study. However, kids texting is rated as less appropriate, possibly because it's more of a social act than an adult answering emails.

The study finds that people in their mid-20s perceive using phones at dinner to be the most appropriate. Above that age, perceived appropriateness of use declines with age.

However, both adults and kids generally agree that it is more appropriate for adults to use their phones at dinner than for kids to.

Perhaps not surprisingly, people's own cell phone use is the strongest determination of their beliefs about cell phone usage. Basically, if you use your phone at dinner a lot, you probably think it's okay to do so.