The Phones at the Dinner Table Game

When I attended a one-year-old’s birthday party a few weeks ago, some of the adults stood around the snack table and proposed the following game for when going out to dinner with friends: Everyone stacks their phones at the center of the table. The first person who reaches for their phone at any time during the meal pays for dinner. If no one reaches for their phone, everyone splits the meal.

“But what if—” I began.

“No what ifs,” the adults said. “You’re going to pay for dinner.”

“Okay, but if a person reaches for her phone and it turns out to be an emergency, I’m going to pay for myself,” I offered.


“The game’s the game,” the adults said.

I thought about that conversation today because apparently, this isn’t a novel idea. In fact, there’s an app for it (there’s an app for most things, it seems).

They look like they’re having fun.

To be honest, I’m not really into these kinds of games. Is it really that hard to put your phone away during dinner and not think about it until dinner’s—hey, look at me. I’m trying to make a point right now. Oh, it’s cool I can wait a minute.


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