Bringing back conversation to the dinner table

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Just place your handphones in the olive green box provided. The disc has some games that can be played while waiting for your food.

IF YOU have visited A Pie Thing, Monte’s, Nosh Up or The Bee in the past few weeks, you may have noticed a little box, the size of a tissue box, on your table.

The staff would have told you what it’s about. The No Mobile During Dinner campaign is a move to get people, especially families, to put away their handphones and have more face-to-face conversations.

The box itself is a talking point, if you are stuck for a subject of conversation. It helps families start a conversation about their gadgets and other distractions at the dinner table.

The project was initiated by Focus on the Family Malaysia (FOFM) together with the National Population and Family Development Board of Malaysia (LPPKN), under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.

It was launched last month and the participating restaurants are: A Pie Thing, Brewyard Coffee, Mango Chili, LeMidi, Monte’s, Soleil, Strangers at 47, The Bee, The Crusty Nest, The Hungry Hog, The Red Beanbag, Yellow Brick Road, Naughty Babe Dirty Duck, Pizza Brava, BarBQ Plaza, Leaf & Bean, Morco, My Elephant, Nosh Up, Sanook, Thirdwave, and Yellow Apron.

What you do when you go to any of these outlets is to mute your phones and put them in the box on the table. If you are able to get through the meal without reaching for your handphones, you will be rewarded. Each restaurant has a different “reward” – from a discount to a voucher or even a free dessert.

The campaign ends on Nov 30, 2016.

In Malaysia, the use of mobile phones has been found to be the highest among other electronic devices. According to Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)’s Hand Phone Users Survey 2014, 71.4% of users surveyed constantly check their mobile phones even when it does not ring.

In fact, we often see families sitting down to a meal at a restaurant with parents and children all on their mobile devices and not much talking going on.

In response to this increasingly common scene, FOFM decided to embark on this campaign that invites all families and individuals to bring back real-life social interaction during meal times.

Lee Wee Min, FOFM executive director, said at the launch last month, “Communication is to relationship as blood is to a human body. When communication stops, a relationship ceases to exist in a meaning manner, like when blood stops flowing in a body, the body ceases to function.”

Restaurants which want to join this campaign can contact FOFM.

For more information, go to http://family.org.my/nmdd.html.