The Source for Parents


Put Your Phone Away... Mom!

An article from Jonathan McKee at

Dynamic ImageThe number one complaint I hear from parents today: “My kid can’t go five minutes without looking at her stupid phone!”

This isn’t surprising in a world where about three quarters of teens now have smartphones and are mobile internet users. How can a 16-year-old with 387 Instagram followers possibly go an entire dinner without their phone buzzing at least once?

And when a phone beckons, we must answer, right?

Do you?

Forget teens for a second. In a world where the average American adult spends 11 hours per day with digital media, you might want to think twice about your answer. Because researchers from Boston Medical Centre would argue parents are setting precedent with their own phone habits.

In their study, these Boston researchers discovered:

  • 73% of parents used their phone at least once during a meal.

  • 1 in 3 used their phones continuously during the meals.

  • The majority of children became restless and acted up to seek attention.

I gotta admit, when I read about this study, my first thought was, I typically check my phone once when I am out at a meal.


Funny, when my family is at home, we don’t bring our phones to the dinner table. We’ve declared the kitchen a no-phone-zone, if you will. Our family typically eats together and does dishes together. It’s usually a pretty fun time with lots of talking, laughing and joking together. The phone doesn’t interrupt this.

But often we do let the phone interrupt our lives. It’s like the phone connected to our walls 20 years ago. When that thing rang, what’s the first thing we did? We got up and answered it. Forget that we were in a deep conversation with our family… the phone is ringing!

Urgent won over important.

Chances are Brittany’s Instagram post of her new American Eagle sweater isn’t more important than your dinner conversation.

Why don’t we all just agree to put our e-conversations aside for a few minutes and focus on the conversations we’re having face to face first.

Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over a dozen books including the brand new More Than Just the Talk, Sex Matters, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three kids Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.

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