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I do a fair amount of people watching at work, and enjoy it enormously. But I am getting more and more concerned that we might be raising an entire generation of children who will have no idea how to have a dinner table conversation.

I understand how parents might want their children to have something to do while they wait for their food to arrive. That’s the joy of a kid’s menu — as well as the meal choices, there are also games, riddles, stickers, you name it, to keep them entertained. But more and more children are coming in with electronics…at earlier and earlier ages. The young ones with their iPads are thrilled to have games to play; the older ones, constantly texting (or sometimes talking) give out the “I’ll eat with you but I don’t have to interact with you” sulky vibe. Tonight I seated a family whose youngest had an iPad, the teenager had ear buds in his ears so he could listen to music, and both parents were texting on their phones. I really wonder why they bothered to eat dinner at the same table. They certainly weren’t conversing.

Joseph’s dad and I took him to dinner at a nice restaurant when he was three weeks old, and as soon as he could talk he was ordering his own food. Georgia was even faster…her first meal “out” was at a week old (her first antique shop visit was at three days old, but that’s another story). We ate at restaurants on a pretty regular basis, and both children understood the art of visiting about the day, or about the world, during dinner. I don’t know who I feel more sorry for — the children who aren’t being taught how to have a pleasant conversation with adults, or the adults who miss out on the opportunity to find out about their children’s day.

Rant over. Enjoy your dinner!

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