Stop Looking at Your Phone While You Eat

Young people are overwhelmingly distracted while eating—and it has negative consequences.

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eating lunch while looking at phone
Photo: Simplylove (Shutterstock)

As someone born in 1995, I sit right on the cusp between millennials and Gen Z. While I could theoretically choose to identify with either generation, I feel much more comfortable calling myself a millennial, mostly because I grew up in a time when it was uncool to be queer and I don’t understand TikTok. When I talk to a Gen Z person, I can feel the generational divide—mainly because they’re ignoring me and staring at their phone. And it’s not only during such interactions that they’re disassociating. Apparently, the next generation can’t stop staring at their phones during mealtimes either.

Home Run Inn recently conducted a survey of 1,000 millennials and 1,000 Zoomers to gather info on their cooking and eating habits. Honestly, a lot of the stats were predictable. Millennials typically spend more on groceries and takeout because they’re older and have more money. Zoomers are a little less confident about cooking because they’re younger and less experienced in the kitchen. But the most interesting stats were those surrounding phone use while eating.

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Of those millennials surveyed, 60% admitted to staring at their phones while eating, but for Gen Z, the number was 81%. Surprisingly, most people aren’t even waiting until the food is ready to start aimlessly scrolling TikTok: 66% of Gen Z and 58% of millennials said that they stare at their phones while cooking! No wonder three-quarters of the respondents admitted to burning their food occasionally. I’d be curious to see how many have started a kitchen fire.

Now, I’ve certainly been guilty of doom-scrolling over dinner, but it’s a habit I’ve been taking steps to change. In an effort to be more mindful, I have come to appreciate the art of slowing down and really tasting the food I’m eating, noting the textures and flavors along the way. It reminds me of the prehistoric times before smartphones when we all had no choice but to be present in the meal moment (assuming we weren’t eating in front of the TV). One study even found that phone use while eating leads to higher consumption, as “cognition is a pivotal component in regulating food intake.”

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Of course, it would be unfair of me to solely single out Gen Z, or even millennials, for being glued to their phones. Even my parents sometimes scroll on their iPads while they’re eating. In 2023, everyone is in a permanent state of distraction. Perhaps it’s a good thing that some restaurants are banning cell phones altogether, but at home, it seems like anything goes.