Table talk can help create happier families

The digital device is impacting Aussie family’s ability to take time over their meals and enjoy a proper conversation.

The art of lively laughs and long dinnertime discussions are disappearing in Australia. In stark contrast to days gone by, new research* shows only three in ten (30%) Australian families share a meal together each night and almost half (44%) of Aussie families admit they find dinnertime conversations difficult.

Four in five Aussie parents (79%) claim there are times when their family sits in silence at the dinner table.

However, there is a clear desire for better dinner conversations. A whopping 95% of Australian parents believe conversations improve a meal and just under two thirds say conversation makes a meal great (58%).

Research also shows the happiest households are the ones who take their time over meals and truly connect by discussing their day and sharing what’s on their minds. Experts have found that the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives1.

“Australian life can feel like it’s getting busier and more stressful to manage, with many families feeling like there’s not enough time in the day. It’s not surprising to hear that 97% of parents prefer meals where their family can laugh, connect, tell stories and share food so let’s forget about complicated cooking techniques and get back to simple and nutritious meals that can kickstart conversation and create community”, said Jocelyn Brewer, Australian psychologist and cyberpsychology researcher.

Further findings from the Old El Paso™ research found that:

  • Digital device divide: According to 92% of Australian parents, smartphones and other digital devices negatively impact their family’s ability to have great conversations;
  • Too tired to talk: A third (33%) of Australian parents are simply too tired to talk at the end of the day;
  • How was your day? Is the most common dinnertime topic for 77% of Australian parents, followed by what’s going on at school/work (74%) and weekend plans (59%);
  • Political veto: Only 10% of Australian parents like to talk about politics at the dinner table;
  • Do we need more help when it comes to chatting with our families? 100% of Australian parents surveyed said they would try tools like conversation cards to boost banter;
  • Want more dinner discussion? Australian parents have voted and good conversations are served when you can discuss different flavours and textures (51%), create a relaxed and informal setting for more fluid conversation (47%) and when meals are for sharing (42%).
  • Watching television (39%)

“Australian families, whether they live in regional or metro areas, with Millennial, Gen X or Boomer parents, all want to bond and see dinnertime conversation as the perfect avenue for this. Our study shows the ideal ingredients for mealtime conversation can be as simple as a delicious, fun and informal meal that gets everyone racing to the table,” commented Cameron Hardacre, Senior Marketing Manager Old El Paso™.

1 Breaking Bad: The Functions of Social Eating, R.I.M Dunbar, University of Oxford (2017)

*Research Methodology: YouGov Galaxy conducted the study online from 19-24 June 2019 among a representative sample of 1,030 parents with children aged under 18 years throughout Australia.