Brits want to ban phone use at restaurant tables

Diners fed up with phones at the table and would welcome a no phone zone whilst eating

  • 90% of Brits find it rude when others use their phones during a meal1
  • On average Brits spend 7 minutes on their phone every time they dine out
  • 41% post images of their food onto social media channels
  • 1 in 10 diners post meals on social media to give the impression they lead an indulgent lifestyle
  • Interview & comment from food critic and broadcaster Grace Dent

London, 29th April 2016… New research by OpenTable, the world’s leading restaurant booking service, has found that despite the UK being a nation of social media advocates, British diners are becoming increasingly frustrated at the use of mobile phones during a meal. 9 in 10 Brits admit they find it rude when others use their phones during a meal, while a further three quarters (83%) of the UK would welcome a ‘no phone zone’ in restaurants.

While mobile technology continues to be a necessary resource for improving the dining experience; allowing foodies to discover new restaurants and share their experiences – Brits are increasingly protective of its impact whilst at the restaurant table. OpenTable research reveals that two thirds (66%) of the UK will use their mobile phone at the table when dining and, of those that do, 41% would post images of their food on social media.

The study also looked at how much of their meal time diners are wasting on their mobiles; revealing that on average they spend 7 minutes on their phone every time they dine out, equating to 573 hours of neglecting their fellow diners over a lifetime.2 It appears women are more addicted to their phones with 71% admitting to using it at the table, compared to 60% of men.

A further sign of our increasing reliance on social media was proven by one third (32%) of the UK admitting to asking for a restaurant’s Wi-Fi password before they even order their meal, while 40% would not to go to a restaurant if it didn’t have Wi-Fi. One fifth (18%) admit to posting a meal on social media to make their followers envious, while 1 in 10 do it to give the impression they lead an indulgent lifestyle.

Insight from restaurateurs further supports these results as they reveal that a quarter (25%) of their guests interrupt a meal to take photos of their group, food and the restaurant. Restaurant owners are embracing this demand with almost three quarters (83%) encouraging guests to post about and share the experience via their social media channels.

Adrian Valeriano, Vice President, Europe, OpenTable, comments, “Mobile phones and social media are now a central part of both our professional and social lives, so it isn’t surprising to see that diners are using their mobiles at the dinner table more than ever. It’s fair to say that in recent years the restaurant industry has had to adapt to this change in dining behaviour, but you would be hard-pushed to find an establishment that had a problem with it. However, if diners are serious about wanting no-phone zones, it will be fascinating to see whether restaurants adopt it.”

 Grace Dent, Food Critic and Broadcaster, comments, “I am definitely guilty of using social media at a restaurant dining table and I don’t see a problem with sharing the odd snap of your meal here and there. However, it’s fair to say the trend for ‘food porn’ is impacting on the pleasure of the dining experience. As a result we’re all guilty of forgetting basic social manners and so I think it’s important to establish a greater sense of etiquette and decorum at the restaurant table.”

Some of Grace’s tips include:

  • We all use various technology and social media to book and discover new restaurants but once sat opposite your dining partner, remember you’re there to be with them.
  • Prioritise conversation. If someone’s more interested in being on their phone than being with you, it’s time to get the cheque.
  • Food first, filter later. Get in and get out, if you’re desperate to document and upload your food then make sure you document it quickly and labour over uploading it later.
  • Don’t insist on involving your fellow diners in a social media brag. If your guest doesn’t want to be snapped mid-gorge, then respect that fact.
  • Never, ever, let someone’s social media snapping get in the way of enjoying your food. If they want to photograph your dish, they should have ordered it.
  • Rearrange the table at your peril. Not only does it invite judgement from your fellow diners, but you’ll look like Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen shifting furniture on Changing Rooms.