Smart phone ban in restaurants does have some merit, social media experts says

There is a growing trend of banning diners from using smart phones and tablets while in restaurants and cafes. Photo: Shutterstock
There is a growing trend of banning diners from using smart phones and tablets while in restaurants and cafes. Photo: Shutterstock

A GROWING international trend of banning diners from using smart phones and tablets while in restaurants and cafes does have some merit, a social media sociologist says.

Today's digital world means people's phones and tablets are continually buzzing, beeping, vibrating and ringing to notify you of calls, alerts and social media notifications.

It was recently reported in national media that not only had one Sydney eatery banned these technologies to encourage people to connect and communicate during a meal, it had gone a step further and banned colouring books, board games and building blocks.

This restaurant is not alone, with Woolloomooloo eatery Contact Bar and Kitchen offering customers a free glass of wine if they surrender their phones while they dine.

While the no technology while eating idea had some merit, NSW Central West social media sociologist Peter Sutton wasn't sure how well it would be received in the region.

"There's no doubt they're very pervasive," he said of smart phones and tablets.

"There's a trend starting to converge, people are starting to push back on using devices in these spaces."

Mr Sutton said these devices are designed to target "human frailties" with many people unable to put their phones and tablets aside for too long.

"They're designed to capture our attention so we have to work had to maintain face-to-face communication," he said.

"These devices have helped entrap us."

As a parent, Mr Sutton said banning colouring books, board games and building blocks might be a step too far.

"I think they'll just vote with their feet," he said of Central West diners.

Mr Sutton said he sympathises with many parents who find it easy to hand their child a smart phone or tablet during a meal to get a little peace.

"Communication is not just between children and parents, it should also be between the parents," he said.