Should Restaurants Ban Smartphone Usage While Dining? Experts Weigh In


Dining out has become an activity we all treasure, especially after the strict lockdown period. We now make extra efforts to dress up and visit our favourite restaurants to relish our much-loved food and beverages in a relaxed environment. While dining, do you use your phone, or do you keep it to one side and avoid checking it entirely? There are both kinds of diners at every eatery, and this was exactly the subject of a recent debate that erupted in food circles.

What Was the Recent Social Media Controversy Around Smartphone Usage in Restaurants?

News reports from the first week of April revealed that a restaurant named Debu-Chan in Tokyo has decided to ban customers from using their smartphones while eating. This was done to prevent people from sitting at the restaurant for too long and keep the queues moving. Furthermore, the restaurant owners noticed that diners would not consume their food even after it was served as they were busy watching videos.

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Thus, the news stirred up quite some reactions from foodies and internet users. A controversy erupted on social media around smartphone usage while dining. While some felt that the move was justified, others thought the news was unwarranted.

Keep Smartphone Aside – Enjoy Food in Peace

Some experts feel that it is a welcome move by the Tokyo restaurant and smartphone usage should strictly be prohibited while dining at restaurants. “In today’s time, the phone has become an integral part of our lives or an extended part of our body to say so. I personally think when food comes to the table, phones should be kept aside, and food should be enjoyed and consumed in peace. So it’s a great move by a restaurant in Tokyo, and we should at least start with one day of the week as a no-phone day,” said Goumtesh Singh, partner at Yeti and Raasta cafe. “With the rise of smartphones and other mobile devices, many people have developed a habit of checking their devices during meals. Experts suggest that this is not only rude but also harmful to our mental and physical health. It is important for individuals to set boundaries and establish phone-free zones during mealtimes to promote better communication, improve digestion, and enhance overall well-being,” revealed Imran Hossain, Owner of Space Bar and Kitchen.

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Taking food photos with smartphone is quite a common practice now. Photo: iStock

Others also feel that using the phone during casual dining is still acceptable, but when dining is meticulously planned, it is respectful to keep the phone away, keeping in mind the effort the chef has put in to create the meal. “The meal should be enjoyed with friends and family, or if the chef has curated a course-wise menu, and it is an experiential dining process, your phone should be kept away so that all the senses of the person are dedicated to the food,” explained Chef Noah Barnes, co-founder, and chef at Miss Margarita by Arriba.

Smartphones Increase Social Media Presence

There are always gray areas with smartphone usage. Certain restaurateurs and chefs believe that smartphone users can work in favor of the restaurant too. People feel inclined to take pictures and videos of their food and post them on Instagram, tagging the restaurant, thus increasing their social media presence. “Nothing makes me happier than consumers who love sharing their experience through their social media handles. As long as their usage remains limited to that and doesn’t end up depriving them of a wholesome experience, I guess cellphone usage during meals will not be that big of a deal,” said Kashish Aneja, co-founder of Xero Degrees.

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“Phones are an essential part of our gear and if our guests wish to be always connected then we have to give them that space. We don’t believe and dictate whether to use a phone in our restaurant or not as long as it doesn’t disturb other guests,” said Sumedha Singhal, Director of Marketing at Nirulas.

Smartphone Usage At Restaurants: Our Verdict

As long as smartphone usage does not hamper your dining experience, it should be fine. A blanket ban would not be the solution and would lead to further issues.



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