Turn off smartphones at dinner time

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Turn off smartphones at dinner time

“When was the last time a family had dinner together?,” many people wonder. It is regrettable that a family gathering is such an unusual event nowadays. The family of Ryu Seong-ryong, famed minister of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), teaches that table manners are the minimum education. Etiquette is a key educational philosophy not only in Korea but also among Jewish families and the Kennedys in the United States.

Korea’s per capita national income is approaching $30,000, but are young Koreans happy at home? According to OECD data, young people in 20 OECD member countries spend 2 hours and 30 minutes a day with their parents. However, Korean children spend an average of 48 minutes with their parents, one of the shortest. If meal time takes up most of those 48 minutes spent together, how about integrating table manners with online education?

There needs to be rules in table manners and etiquette. When a family gathers around the table for a meal, it is not desirable for parents to scold or discipline their children instead of listening to them. It is important to designate a family dinner day once a week or on a certain day of the week, and to continuously have the family time.

Government ministries recognize the importance of family meals and have designated every Wednesday as “family day,” encouraging people to go home early and have dinner with their families.

The Korea Communications Commission has been unfolding a nationwide campaign called “Beautiful World of Internet” jointly with private and government agencies in order to spread healthy online ethics since 2010. It includes lecture tours, street campaigns, hands-on activities and online events. This year, “Internet Ethics Education at the Table” was newly launched to facilitate communication between parents and children and to resolve excessive internet usage.

It is important that all family members turn off their smartphones and turn on their five senses when sitting around the table. Various programs will be operated to designate the education day as a family meal day, and parents can share what they have learned with their children over a meal. Hopefully, Internet Ethics Education at the Table will become a nationwide cultural movement for happy lives for all family members.
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