IKEA dinner table renders mobile phones unusable - good or bad?

Should phones be banned at dinner? Picture: Michael Gillen
Should phones be banned at dinner? Picture: Michael Gillen
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A new invention from IKEA which encourages people to put away their phones has sparked conversation on whether or not using your phone at the dinner table is acceptable.

The “phone-less table” aims to eradicate the use of phones while eating, and has been trialed in Taiwan.

Where a communal meal, cooked at the table is the norm, the invention sees people having to surrender their phones to a compartment underneath the cooking pot.

The more phones placed in the compartment, the more heat the pad generates, both cooking and keeping the food warm.

Any phones that are removed from the compartment, reduces the temperature of the pad.

In the video, people are seen struggling to leave their phone alone, causing the pot to cool rapidly. 
After a while, they begin to socialise more and express that the food tastes better when they’re not concentrating on how many likes their picture of the food got on Instagram.

Caroline Jones-Carrick believes that there are all areas of life that people need to come out from behind their screens

Caroline Jones-Carrick believes that there are all areas of life that people need to come out from behind their screens

Across the pond, a popular restaurant chain is considering initiating a “No Technology Tuesday” where customers will be banned from using their phone in the building.

Is using your phone during dinner really that bad?

A study called the iPhone Affect, carried out at a university in the US, the Virginia Tech students found that having a mobile phone in your hand, or even just on the table, significantly reduced the quality of conversation between two people, regardless of age, gender or even mood.

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Those who spent 10 minutes without a mobile phone reported higher levels of empathetic concern. 

Another study in Sweden found a link between high mobile usage and a greater tendency for disruptive sleep or even depression. 

But with six in ten Scottish adults owning a smart phone (Ofcom) should we accept phones as a regular fixture of the dinner table? 

Pope Francis doesn’t think so.

His Holiness weighed into the debate by declaring that tech doesn’t belong at dinner.

And some within Scotland’s burgeoning technology sector agree.

Caroline Jones-Carrick, director of the TEV Project, a Scotland-based social enterprise designing the roads of the future for electric transport, is a mother-of-three who feels that sometimes everyone needs a step away from tech.

Caroline said: “I am 100 per cent a fan of technology improving just about every aspect of our lives.

But there are certain teenage members of my extended family who, even when they’re sitting across from me at dinner, I’d have to text in order to have a conversation. This, I am not a fan of.

“I think banning mobiles at dinner is a great idea.

“It would be hard, if not impossible for some families but it’s worth trying.

“I try to be conscious of the message I send my children when my nose is in my phone responding to work emails
“Mobile phones are symbols of personal freedom. I think it’s awesome what they can provide us with, but you can also narrow your world a lot by viewing it through a tiny screen.