Family mealtimes are meant to be a chance for families to get together and exchange stories, catch up on each others’ news and generally get closer. Unfortunately the flow of conversation at Britain’s family dinner tables is decidedly one-directional. Indeed, according to a study out today, parents wanting to make a connection will need to immerse themselves much more fully in their kids’ cultural interests: as one fifth of all 6-16 year olds named Harry Styles and his fellow One Directioners their ideal topic of family mealtime chatter.
The research by Goodfella’s Pizza, which studied 1,000 children aged 6-16 and 2,000 adults to find out about their mealtime habits, revealed that nearly a third (31%) of parents struggle to start a conversation with their children at mealtimes because they simply don’t know what to talk to them about. Instead, they are reverting to unoriginal opening lines to try and engage with their brood, with “How what your day at school?” and “Have you done your homework?” topping the list of go-to phrases.
As a result, over half (53%) of kids questioned claim that they are bored by their parents’ drones over dinner and wish they’d say something more relevant. They cite the poor quality of conversation as the main reason that 43% are entertaining themselves by watching TV whilst they eat, over a quarter (27%) are texting and playing games on their phones and 5% are even listening to music on their headphones.
However not all is lost, 6-16 year olds want their parents to be more “down with the kids”, with a third (33%) saying they would behave better if they were more interested in what their mum and dads had to say and a quarter (25%) just want their mum and dad to let their hair down and have a little more fun, when they eat together. In fact, the best way to get kids off their phones is to talk with them about what’s on those very devices, as a new conversation guide reveals.
I find it difficult to sit down with my kids at meal times and no what to say. The usual chatter tends to be more geared towards why they aren’t eating their food and it would be nice to have better conversations.
We were recently challenged by Goodfellas pizzas.
To help families across the UK re-connect at mealtimes, Goodfella’s Pizza put the power in the hands of kids by asking them what topics of conversation interested them the most, broken down by age group:
• 60% of kids named video games such as Skylanders and Fifa as their go-to topics
• 55% chose pop artists such as One Direction and Little Mix,
• which was closely followed by You Tube and social media, with vine videos a hot topic amongst those questioned (41%). Experts at Goodfella’s have taken kids’ suggestions and recommendations to create KIDS CONVERSATION STATIONS, a fun guide for parents, including 10 conversation starters (broken down by childrens’ ages) that are guaranteed (more or less) to get kids talking, making mum and dad king and queen of the dinner table once more!
We were sent some vouchers for Goodfellas pizzas and given a list of kids conversation station questions to use whilst at the table.
These are the conversation stations suitable for my two older children (6-12 years).
KIDS CONVERSATION STATIONS: 6-12 year olds
1. I heard you playing Justin Bieber’s new song earlier – are you and your friends all Beiliebers?
2. We can’t wait to watch the new LEGO film…
3. We heard that Match Attax cards are really cool – what are they all about..?
4. What’s your favourite video game at the moment, we heard Skylanders is really good…
5. If you could be any footballer, which one would you be?
Well I got a few funny looks whilst asking. They looked at me as of to say “what are you talking about”. Jordanna answered first question by saying she loves Justin Beiber and started singing one of his songs.
Next the Lego film which Ryan replied “What Lego film? Can we watch it”
I then got a long conversation on match Attax cards and that they are to do with football and players and Ryan wants some more.
Ryan loves his Skylanders game so agreed it was good. Jordanna doesn’t play on video games yet which she reminded me of.
Finally Ryan wants to be David Beckham (typical) and Jordanna says eeew football is rubbish.
For the older teenagers there is a separate list of recommended conversations.
1. So, Harry Styles and Kendall Jenner, are they on or off?
2. I love Perry’s dress in the new Little Mix video, would you like one like that?
3. What are your favourite Vine videos at the moment, we love…
4. What do you think about Flappy Birds being banned?
5. Who are the best people to follow on Instagram/ twitter? We started following xx last week…
About the study:
Research carried our by surveying 2,000 British parents and 1,000 British children by Censuswide.
Kids’ top 10 conversation topics as voted for by 1,000 children:
1. Video games (60%)
2. Favourite bands and pop artists including One Direction (55%)
3. You Tube videos and social media (41%)
4. Films (40%)
5. TV programmes (35%)
6. Favourite football team (33%)
7. Sports activities / PE (30%)
8. Music videos (29%)
9. Playground gossip and crazes (28%)
10. Things I’ve made (21%)
Information about Goodfellas pizzas can be found on their website