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New Survey From Dream Dinners Reveals One in Five Households Fed Up With Technology at the Table

American Households Frustrated by "Tabletop Texting" Eating Away at Quality Family Time (January 17, 2012)

SNOHOMISH, WA -- (Marketwire) -- 01/17/12 -- Table side service may seem a fine way to dine, unless of course, you're talking about cell phone service! In a national "Dinnertime Distractions" online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Dream Dinners, nearly one in four U.S. parents of high school aged children claim tabletop texting and other mobile phone use as a major dinnertime distraction that cuts into quality time at the table.

And, it's not just the teens. Suggesting parents may be equally as guilty, nearly 20% of parents with children of any age reported mobile phone use as something that negatively impacts their family meal time together. To help families address this exact problem, a new book was just released; "The Hour That Matters Most," a #1 New York Times Best Seller, gives families practical tips and guidance as to how to make the most of the dinner hour.

"It is encouraging to see that many families are carving out the time to eat dinner together, but it's important to make sure to maximize this opportunity so that it is truly quality time," said Stephanie Allen, co-founder of Dream Dinners, the nation's leading meal assembly chain, and co-author of the book "The Hour That Matters Most," available on www.amazon.com. "Our survey showed that 38% of families are battling technology distractions like TVs, laptops, video games and mobile phones while trying to enjoy their meal and time together. The family dinner hour has always been a sacred thing, but in this plugged in day and age, we have to work even harder to stop, unplug, unwind, reconnect and use this time to help focus on one another and strengthen the family bond."

In addition to technology, a number of other culprits are spoiling supper as well. Combined, nearly 70% of families reported they experience dinnertime distractions that negatively impact their time together. According to the survey, the top five dinnertime distractions are: rushing to finish the meal due to schedule conflicts (33%); entertainment technologies including televisions and computers (31%); parental stress (24%); mobile phone use at the table (19%) and difficulty engaging children in conversation (13%).


Other key survey findings include:

  • Tween angst? Parents with children in 6th through 8th grades reported having the hardest time connecting with their children over dinner. More than 20% claimed they struggled to engage their kids in conversation, compared to their counterparts with younger children; only 14% of parents with high schoolers reported this same dilemma, and just 13% of those with children in kindergarten through 5th grade, and 11% in pre-kindergarten, respectively.

  • While at least one-third of all U.S. households had their family time together at the table negatively impacted due to on-the-go schedule juggling, the incidence rate was notably higher among higher-educated, higher-earning households. Some 40% of college graduate parents reported time constraints caused by rushing to other activities as a negative distraction, compared to only 19% of parents with a high school education or less. This held true for households earning more than $75k annually (40%) as compared to households earning less than $50k (25%).

  • A rat race in the Midwest? Families residing in the Midwest states reported a much higher rate of schedule juggling conflicts cutting in to dinner time, clocking in at 41%. This, compared to East Coast families who reported the same conflict (32%), West Cost households (30%) and Southerners (28%).

"Our results showed that while we are driven and proactive in our work and extracurricular lives, American families need to be proactive and intentional in their family life too," commented Allen. "You don't have to have dinner together seven nights a week, but to truly connect and not just pass each other in the kitchen 'food court,' we need to schedule the hour that matters most and be respectful of that time together."

To help combat these modern day distractions, Dream Dinners suggest

  • Unplug when at the table. Make a household rule that TVs, computers and phones should be off, and ensure everyone knows the intention behind it.
  • Have some routine topics starters on hand to engage children at the table and stimulate conversation. Dream Dinners provides a number of free downloadable conversation starters and dinnertime tools at www.thehourthatmattersmost.com.
  • Be intentional with your dinner time routine or any family meal time together, and come in with the focus to use that time to connect and tune out distractions. Just making the commitment to dine together at least one night per week goes a long way.

To help families make the most of the family time at the table, Dream Dinners provides practical conversation starter, tips and downloadable tools at www.thehourthatmattersmost.com. Through the book "The Hour That Matters Most," readers can also learn how to nourish and nurture their time together through regular meal times by providing everything you need to help make the most of your dinnertime hour and keep the distractions at bay.

SURVEY METHODOLOGY
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Dream Dinners from November 17-22, 2011 among 1,368 parents of children age 17 years or younger. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

ABOUT DREAM DINNERS
Founded in 2002, Dream Dinners, Inc. is the recognized originator of the $300 million meal assembly industry. Headquartered in Snohomish, Wash., Dream Dinners locations provide guests' monthly menus to select from, then procure and prepare all ingredients in advance, so guests can assemble dozens of meals in about an hour, then take home to freeze. With more than 100 franchises in 30 states, Dream Dinners saves its guests both valuable time and money, and focuses on bringing families back to the dinner table with healthful, delicious and easy-to-fix meals. www.dreamdinners.com

Contact
Charlotte Starck
(206)678-2349
Starck Hines Group | Media Relations for Dream Dinners
Email Contact


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