Food for thought: Parent-child face-to-face communication and mobile phone use in eateries

Nelly Elias, Dafna Lemish, Galit Rovner-Lev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


It has become increasingly common for parents and children to engage in individual digital activities which disconnect them from each other while remaining in each other’s presence. Accordingly, this paper examines how parent-child face-to-face communication is associated with mobile phone use during a family meal in eateries. The study included unobtrusive observations of 58 families with children approximately three to six years of age in various eateries. We identified four parent-child face-to-face interaction patterns that occurred when a parent and/or a child used a mobile phone: (1) Communication discouragement during parents’ phone use; (2) Communication discouragement during children’s phone use; (3) Communication facilitation via family photos; and (4) Communication facilitation via a shared phone use. Mobile phone use during family mealtimes in public is thus another example of both the positive and the negative outcomes of media use in family communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-286
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Family Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - 29 Jul 2021


  • Family meal
  • child-parent communication
  • mobile phone
  • observations
  • public place

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication


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