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

A U.K.-based restaurant chain is offering an incentive to parents who don’t use their cell phones during dinner – a free meal for their children.

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Frankie & Benny’s decided to launch the “no-phone zone” promotion after the family-friendly restaurant conducted a survey of 1,500 people to see how the use of cell phones affected dinnertime.

According to the survey, 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 cell phones during meals – often while their child was talking. Around 10 percent of children even said they went as far as to try and hide their parents’ phones to get more attention.

As a way to combat the trend of parents preferring screen time over family time, the New York-style Italian restaurant offered free meals for kids when parents give up their devices.

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"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 press release from the restaurant, Today reported. "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."

During the promotion, which started November 27, Frankie & Benny’s will provide a special box for parents to store their devices in during the meal.

Though the promotion is optional, the restaurant does “actively encourage” parents to participate.

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Those on social media were divided about the restaurant’s move.

The chain will run its promotion through December 7.