A father using a smartphone and a son using a tablet at a dinner table during a family meal.

More Than Half Of Parents Have Been Told By Their Children To Put Away Their Phones During Dinner

Comcast Study Shows Families Overwhelmingly Want Dinnertime to be Screen-Free and Some Even Unplug Their Modems to Limit Their Children’s Wi-Fi Access. “Pause Device” is Now Comcast’s Most Popular, Home Wi-Fi Control Feature

A new Comcast survey released today shows that parents across the country are almost unanimous in their belief that disconnecting from devices during mealtime improves family bonding, with nearly half (42 percent) not able to remember the last time their family had a device-free meal and some going so far as to disconnect their modems to stop their children’s Wi-Fi usage.

However, children aren’t the only ones to blame – more than half of parents have been told by their children to put their cell phones away during meals. For these reasons and more, Comcast’s "pause device" home Wi-Fi control feature has become the most popular function of the company’s new Xfinity xFi platform.

The nationwide study of parents, conducted by Wakefield Research, also found:

  • Dinnertime is bonding time – Nearly every (98 percent) parent surveyed agrees that disconnecting from devices during mealtime improves family bonding.

  • Parents can set an example – More than half (52 percent) of parents have been told by their children to put their device away during meals.

  • Device-free meals are rare – More than 2 in 5 parents (42 percent) can’t remember the last time their family had a device-free meal.  And Millennial parents have an especially hard time remembering the last time they broke bread without a device at the table (49 percent), compared to Gen Xers (37 percent) and Boomers (33 percent).

  • Sneaking screen time - Parents admit to taking away their children’s devices an average of once per week and more than half (56 percent) have found their children trying to sneak their devices when they were banned from them.

  • Going to extremes to disconnect – nearly one-third (31 percent) of parents make their children leave their devices in a basket before bedtime, while 14 percent go so far as to disconnect their modems to stop Wi-Fi usage.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that parents develop personalized plans for their children’s device use, warning that excessive screen-time can displace important activities such as face-to-face interaction, family-time, outdoor-play, exercise, and sleep. The AAP has even developed a media time calculator to help parents better track and manage usage.

"Technology should adapt to meet our customers’ needs, not the other way around," said Eric Schaefer, Senior Vice President of Internet and Communications Services for Comcast Cable. "With xFi’s ‘pause device’ feature, parents have the power to decide when it’s time for family members to connect with each other, rather than their devices."

Earlier this year, Comcast launched Xfinity xFi, a new way for customers to personalize, monitor, and control their home Wi-Fi, including the ability to instantly pause Wi-Fi connectivity by user or device. The "pause device" feature is now the most popular xFi function, with users tapping "pause" about five million times since launch, most often between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Comcast has also launched a national television campaign to raise awareness of the "pause device" feature.

Xfinity xFi gives users a simple digital dashboard to set up their home Wi-Fi network, find their password, see what devices are connected, troubleshoot issues, and set parental controls. Additional family-friendly xFi features include:

  • Timed Pause: with xFi, parents can pause devices for a set amount of time – 30 minutes, one hour, or two hours.

  • Safer Searching: xFi includes simple parental controls that include search settings for Google, Bing, and YouTube.

  • Notification Center: xFi customers get real-time notifications about activity on their Wi-Fi network so when their children have friends over and a new tablet or phone logs on, the parent receives a text message and can decide whether to allow connectivity and even set parental controls remotely.

The xFi experience can be controlled via a mobile app (iOS and Android), website and on the TV with the X1 voice remote. xFi is now available to more than 10 million Xfinity Internet customers with a compatible Xfinity Wi-Fi device, and comes at no extra cost.

Click to download PDF.

About the Survey

The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 U.S. parents between September 22 and September 28, 2017, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of U.S. parents.  Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points in each country from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.