Electronic screens, for ordering, bill paying and - shudder - games, are starting to pop up on tables at chain restaurants around the country.
Right now, they're just in testing mode, at places like Applebee's and Chili's. Places that are only a short hop up from fast food. This makes that jump even shorter.
With that in mind, I guess I can't worry too much about the transactional functions of the screens. You can order another round, or quickly pay your bill, via tablet. Yes, it makes the experience a little less personal, but maybe you don't care, especially if it's speedier. (Note: Applebee's and Chili's aren't my style anyway, though I will admit that Chili's makes a pretty decent salsa.)
But games? Maybe even games with ads? No - just no.
I'm biased, of course. We take Dixon out to dinner all the time and we have a very strict no electronics at the table rule (that holds at home, too - and we eat together at the table every night). Yes, sometimes he is bored and occasionally he gets whiny, but we deal with it (and we make sure it doesn't bother any other diners). If he's got his face buried in his DS, how will he learn about dinner table conversation? Or manners?
I may be in the minority here. I'm sure we have friends who gladly give up their iPhones for a few minutes of peaceful conversation. And we are certainly not perfect parents, so I'm not judging.
Not too much, at least.