Spending the night out with family this evening, it was interesting to see how usage of device in a public setting at mealtime has evolved. Devices being a distraction during one-on-one conversations was one of the motivations behind building the Ubi and for voice-first devices. You could have access to technology when you needed it without it being a distraction.
Back in 2012, it was reading information on devices that seemed to be the distraction. Texts and tweets and posts were keeping people heads down in their devices. Today, it’s snapchats or things that will disappear if you don’t tend to them right away.
However, for an older crowd, how are they using their devices? Yes, there’s still the distraction but having a device nearby might be useful. First, I kept mine on the table to snap quick photos of cute things. On sleep, it displayed the time, which was useful for not spending too much time out (especially with two young kids). However, what really caught my eye was the table next to ours.
It was a group of four couples that were passing around a phone showing a video. Five years ago, data was expensive and getting quick access to video on device that was reliable enough to pass around the table without someone pressing the wrong button to stop it was unlikely. Now, it was easy. What was unfortunate was the content — which I could see from a table away — and was waaaay inappropriate for a public setting (especially with kids around).
So what are some rules I keep for mealtime phone?
- Yes, it’s nearby but I won’t check a text / email at dinner.
- If there’s a caller, I’ll check who it is but it will most likely be ignored.
- Using it to show items related to the conversation is good.
- Using it for photo/video capture is great.
- Of course, use voice interaction to reduce non eye contact time.
Enjoy the PSA here: