Family meals 'a thing of the past', TV/mobiles takes over

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London, Mar 4 (UNI) Remember the last time you sat down to a meal with your family in the absence of TVs and mobiles and talked through family issues with each other? Probably months back.

Family meals today are a thing of the past with only a fifth of families having a meal together at least once or twice a week, a survey has found.

Three-quarters of 1,000 families surveyed said they were so busy they hardly ever found the time to talk through their problems.

A family should aim to spend at least 20 minutes at the table to help foster meaningful conversations, The Daily Mail quoted Psychologist Pat Spungin, a parenting expert as saying.

She said there were three phases to a meal, all equally important. In the first, communication is mostly practical as the cooking is finished and everyone sits down. Then comes settling in, where the family members exchange small talk.

The final phase is ''sweet talk'', which Dr Spungin says is crucial to building relationships.

Families need to spend significant time together to enjoy in-depth conversations and share their experiences, stories and worries.

The survey, by Heinz, showed that this time was being eroded - not just by TV but by mobile phones, games consoles and computers, said Dr Spungin.

Modern families take less and less time to chat with each other even without other distractions.

"Conversation is the glue of family life. So when families do sit down at the table, it's important they make the most of the time.

Talking through family issues is the key to family bonding,'' she added.

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