Consuming family quality time: the role of technological devices at mealtimes

Date

2014-07-01

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

0007-070X

Volume Title

Publisher

Emerald

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how technological devices impact on family mealtime rituals. The intention is to understand how the consumption of technological devices transforms eating practices, and how the meanings of family quality time are continuously evolving through the consumption of mobile media devices.

Design/methodology/approach

Insights are drawn from two independent, ethnographic studies that adopted an interpretive approach which employed multiple methods, including 63 visual diaries; 40 written diaries; observations in schools, homes, and Sikh temples (73 items observed), and 66 in-depth interviews. Both studies involved children, aged between 13 and 17 years within the UK, and were conducted for a period of over 12 months each. Informants were recruited through interaction with schools, Sikh temples and the Sikh community.

Findings

The findings reveal interplay between family quality time, and the consumption of technological devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, ipods and their associated application packages. Of particular interest is how these devices transfer cultural meanings surrounding family mealtime interactions. The paper uncovers how family quality time is altered and evolved in form, but not ultimately abandoned, and argues that the pervasive nature of technology at mealtimes has implications into food cultures and identity.

Originality/value

The encroachment of media devices on the food environment has often been described with negativity. However, this study tells a different, yet positive tale about transformations in social institutions such as the family and the school as a consequence of the consumption of technological devices at mealtimes.

Description

Keywords

Children, Young People, Food Consumption, Family, Media, Technological Change

Citation

Chitakunye, P. and Takhar, C. (2014) Consuming family quality time: the role of technological devices at mealtimes. British Food Journal, 116 (7), pp. 1162-1179

Rights

Research Institute

Institute for Applied Economics and Social Value (IAESV)