Restaurant offers free meal for kids if parents don’t use cellphones during dinner

LONDON — A restaurant chain in the United Kingdom is offering a free meal to children as long as they don’t use their cellphones during dinner.

Frankie & Benny’s launched the “no-phone zone” promotion after the restaurant conducted a survey of 1,500 people to see how the use of cellphones affected dinnertime, Today reported.

The survey found nearly 20 percent of children said they felt their parents preferred to be on their phones during meals than to talk.

About 23 percent of parents admitted they checked their phones during meals. About 10 percent of children said they went as far as to try to hide their parents’ phones to get more attention.

“Children spell love T-I-M-E and by putting away screens parents are sending the message that their children are important to them and that can only be good for family time,” parenting expert Susan Atkins said a news release from the restaurant.

“Parents are role models in everything that they do and in everything that they say, so by managing their own screen time parents are teaching their kids by example about when and where technology use is appropriate.”

The promotion started last week. The restaurant will provide a box for the phones to be stored during the meal.

The restaurant said it does “actively encourage” parents to participate.

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