When life imitates the Internet

I speak from experience, by the way: I’ve banned screens for my kids at dinner, and after a few horrifying restaurant experiences that resembled the dining equivalent of Custer’s last stand, behold! My kids can now order their own food; they can look strangers in the eye and have a conversation; they can calmly respond to horrifying unexpected real-world events, like the mistaken placement of cheese on a burger—OK, fine, we’re still working on that one. They can say “please” and “thank you,” and they can generally get through a meal without falling off their chair, spilling some stranger’s beer, or randomly throwing up.

Here’s the sad thing: I cannot tell you how many times these simple feats have sparked amazement and admiration among restaurant staff. Children are increasingly immersed in a screen-fed world: According to Common Sense Media, childhood screen time now averages two-three hours per day for children under 8, six hours a day for kids 8-12, and nine hours for teenagers—and that doesn’t include time spent for school or homework.