The idea seems lovely. Dining together is one of those rare occasions when we engage in face-to-face interactions outside our artificial worlds which remain trapped in social media apps and other services that smartphones offer. If our dining experiences fall victim to the lure of smartphones, apart from not being able to enjoy sumptuous meals, our social interaction skills would suffer too.
A side of Samsung tablet with your McDonald's meal deal
However, the intent would have been more inspiring if it were followed by action. Despite asking for restaurants to turn into phone free zones, an alarming 71 per cent of women and 60 per cent of men still check their mobile phones while dining, so says a new poll. In short, unable to check their addiction themselves, people want restaurants to enforce the restriction on them.
But it is unlikely that restaurants would do so. When people take selfies and pictures of assorted meals and post them on social media, restaurants benefit from the free advertising and publicity. To encourage diners, a lot of restaurants now offer free Wi-Fi so that diners can not only take pictures but can post them on the web instantly. Users can also rate restaurants and share instant feedback on the quality of the food and the ambience on such restaurants' social media pages.
Last week, McDonald's announced that they are installing Samsung Galaxy tablets in their restaurants across the UK with SOTI software to give customers an "Experience of the Future."
How often do you think Britons check their phones? Research says over a billion times a day
"“The tablets form an important part of our new customer experience initiative, which is part of our overall ‘Experience of the Future’ programme. We pride ourselves on listening to our customers and trying to provide new and innovative experiences," said Doug Baker, Head of IT Restaurant Solutions and Service at McDonald’s UK.
The fast food chain have also installed around 600 Qi wireless charging points in 50 of their restaurants across the UK. These charging points are designed to be wipe-clean and water resistant and have been extremely popular among customers.
In September of last year, a research carried out by Deloitte revealed that British smartphone users, numbering nearly 40 million, check their phones more than 1.1 billion times each day. Of these, one-sixth of the smartphone-wielding population check their phones more than fifty times each day, and a staggering one-third check them over twenty five times every day. The research also revealed that one in every ten smartphone users check their phones as soon as they get up every morning.