Screen Time and Dinner Time Don’t Mix

August 2017 By: Stephanie Walsh, MD Medical Director, Child Wellness, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
cell phones in basket
All Ages

OK, be honest. How often do you check your phone during dinner? Every few minutes? Never? Only if it’s an emergency? My phone and I are literally attached at the hip, so we’re in constant communication. But one evening while I was checking my phone, my youngest son put his hand over my phone and said, “mom…pay attention to what I’m saying.” Wow…talk about a reality check. So I’m not so surprised by the results of this study, but I had to share this with you.

Check out this article in the New York Times about the report published in the Journal of Pediatrics about cell phone use during dinner. Researchers observed children during dinner in fast food restaurants and what they saw paints a grim picture.

The vast majority of adults were on their smartphones during dinner, and many were described as “highly absorbed” in their devices. The result? Children were struggling to get their parents’ attention and feeling “sad, angry, mad, frustrated.”

But there’s good news! An easy solution to giving your kids your full attention is making the dinner hour a No Electronics Zone (NEZ) for everyone in the family—including mom and dad!

This rule is a great way to take a needed break from the distractions of phone calls, emails and social media and focus on what’s really important: your family. Our dinner table has the NEZ rule in effect, and the results have been amazing, for the adults and our kids! 

Tonight—and every night, at dinner—why not plug in those phones (preferably in another room!) and give them a rest. It’s the perfect opportunity to limit your screen time and enjoy some family time. 

cell phones in basket

About The Author

Stephanie Walsh, MD
Medical Director, Child Wellness, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

With more than a dozen years of experience in promoting wellness, Medical Director of Child Wellness Stephanie Walsh, MD, is a leader in the field. A board-certified pediatrician and diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, Dr. Walsh played an instrumental role in establishing the Children’s Strong4Life movement. As a working mom with three boys, ages 16, 14 and 12, Dr. Walsh knows the real challenges of parenting, and it’s her personal mission to help Georgia families become healthier and happier. 

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Stephanie Walsh, MD
Medical Director, Child Wellness, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta


With more than a dozen years of experience in promoting wellness, Medical Director of Child Wellness Stephanie Walsh, MD, is a leader in the field. A board-certified pediatrician and diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, Dr. Walsh played an instrumental role in establishing the Children’s Strong4Life movement. As a working mom with three boys, ages 16, 14 and 12, Dr. Walsh knows the real challenges of parenting, and it’s her personal mission to help Georgia families become healthier and happier. In fact, her toughest personal parenting struggle is getting her boys to eat their veggies, something she says is a daily battle.

Dr. Walsh received her Doctor of Medicine degree at the Medical College of Georgia in 2000 and completed a residency in pediatrics at Emory University in 2004.

Dr. Walsh lives in Atlanta with her husband and three sons. She enjoys running and spending time with her family.