Tableside Tech Do's & Don'ts 

You’ve been on both sides of the table. You’re either the wannabe food-photographer capturing a million photos of that ONE dish or the guy salivating over a juicy burger that is ice cold before it even enters his mouth. With over 50 million Americans using their smartphones while dining, it is no surprise that our IRL (In Real Life) connections are becoming increasingly disconnected. 

If living in reality is not enough persuasion to put your phone away, then consider the possibility of improving your overall dining experience. In 2014, a popular NYC restaurant was puzzled by a stream of bad reviews mostly complaining about slow service times. After comparing surveillance tapes taken over a 10-year period, the restaurant discovered that patrons took much longer to order and finish their meal because they were too busy fussing with their phones. Our most memorable dining moments are those shared in intimate chats with the chef, surrendering to tempting aromas and engaging in friendly banter with our company - all of which are easily compromised by your cell phone addiction.

Foodporn photos are just as bad as answering numerous texts or even the dreaded selfie. Were you puzzled by the charming guy that never called you after the first dinner date? Maybe he wasn’t that into you OR he was just irked by those 10 narcissistic selfies you took throughout the evening.

Alas, using your phone at the dinner table is as inevitable as ordering GiGi’s Bread Pudding. Take a look at our list of Do’s and Don’ts to improve your tableside tech etiquette and help you live in a moment where you actually laugh out loud.


-Don’t "check-in" friends without their consent. The only thing spicier than the sriracha sauce you doused all over your taco will be the drama that ensues when Maria discovers her boyfriend Carlos just checked in at the steakhouse conveniently located inside a stripclub.

-Even take out your cellphone from your quilted Chanel bag or back pocket on a date, at a dinner party, or meeting. Although you may think you’ve tuned out your phone, the passive effect of cellphones is startling. A recent Virginia Tech study notes that “individuals are more likely to miss subtle cues, facial expressions, and changes in the tone of their conversation partner’s voice, and have less eye contact” as a result of the mere visibility of a phone.

-Repeatedly check your messages or text. Your tech habits speak volumes about your character, and checking your phone in between sips of your Pinot Grigio makes you look anxious, insecure, and antsy. Otherwise, those three emails you felt it was imperative to read may have cost you that one business deal or second date.

-Take more than one or two photos of that one dish. Somewhere in between taking fifteen photos of your steak and deciding which filter to use, you managed to annoy not only your friends, but your waiter and chef too.

-Ask your waiter to take your photo with 5 different cell phones. Curious why your order took 45 minutes to arrive? Don't be that group that is not only obnoxiously loud, but asting your waiter's time by asking him to capture a photo with everyone's phone. 


-Put your phone on the dinner table face down (if it must be out at all). When grabbing dinner with your friends, stack your phones face down at one end of the table. Whomever goes to check their phone first has to pay for the entire meal. This simple approach to handling tech at the table not only will allow you to truly focus on your friends and engage in actual conversation with one another, but perhaps even result in a free meal!

-Ask your fellow dinner guest(s) or party host if you want to take a picture of the delectable tiramisu in front of you. Etiquette expert Jodi R.R. Smith explains how although taking photos of your food isn’t always polite, if framed in a complimentary light and done quickly you can avoid making a bad impression.

-Download the app “Dinner Mode.” If you’re one of those people who needs a slap on the wrist to help you learn your lesson, look no further than the new Dinner Mode app for smartphones. Dinner Mode “challenges diners to disconnect while at the table,” serving as a nudge or virtual “shame on you” for your tableside etiquette. Simply set the timer, flip over your phone, and enjoy your company! If you get a bit impulsive and do turn your phone over, you’ll be met with a big red warning chastising you for your lack of will power.

-Check your phone in private. If you ate a slice of pizza and nobody was there to see it, did you really eat it? Check your phone when your dinner guest, business partner, or date happens to leave the table and nobody is there to watch you. If you’re at an event, allow yourself to sneak out and check one time for every two hour segment. They say the proof is in the pudding after all.

-Wait until dinner is over to post pictures on social media. Your friends and followers will "like" your photos whether you share them during each course or the next day.

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