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7 Days in Dubai - - CLASSIFIEDS - si­

Re­cently, my wife and I wanted to get away from the daily grind and spend time with our chil­dren so we booked a short break at a ho­tel in Ras Al Khaimah. On our first night, I glanced around at our fel­low din­ers. Of the dozen or so ta­bles with young chil­dren, al­most all of the kids were on elec­tronic de­vices, such as iPads and mo­bile phones. I’m not talk­ing about teens on Snapchat or tweet­ing friends, these were chil­dren not much older than my el­dest, who is five. On quite a few of the ta­bles, the par­ents were on their de­vices too. Now I’m no saint, I ad­mit to oc­ca­sion­ally giv­ing my kids the iPad to keep them quiet. I’m also not a dig­i­tal Ne­an­derthal, I fully un­der­stand chil­dren can­not be raised in the rose-tinted days of my youth, when sum­mers were al­ways warm, it was safe to play in the road and the only com­puter in my life was the BBC Mi­cro shared by my en­tire pri­mary school. To­day, tablets, phones… etc are part of chil­dren’s lives, both aca­dem­i­cally and recre­ation­ally, from be­fore they can walk. Our chil­dren need them to de­velop. How­ever, there is a time and a place for ev­ery­thing. At the din­ner ta­ble while on a fam­ily hol­i­day is not the time or place to catch Poke­mon, check emails or post a photo of you pos­ing in the pool with a pina co­lada. This is the most pre­cious of times for a fam­ily. A time to con­nect, to teach your chil­dren about manners and en­cour­age them to ex­pand their world by try­ing dif­fer­ent foods and flavours. If the waiter asks what your child would like, what is bet­ter, for you to say the usual or to en­cour­age your kid to in­ter­act with the waiter, boost­ing the child’s con­fi­dence, com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and en­gag­ing their young brain with the world around them? And, of course, let’s not for­get that stud­ies have re­peat­edly linked ex­ces­sive use of elec­tronic de­vices with child­hood obe­sity, be­hav­iour prob­lems, poor sleep and poor school per­for­mance. So par­ents, as hard as it might be to swal­low, put the phones away at the ta­ble.

SOAPBOX Deputy Ed­i­tor Si­mon Pluck­rose urges par­ents and kids to turn off tech at the din­ner ta­ble

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