Use phone during meals? We hate it but we do it

Ikea survey also finds that only 22% of Singaporeans cook at home every day


Half of Singaporeans say they find it annoying when other people use their mobile phones during mealtimes. Yet 83 per cent admit that they do it.

The findings were revealed yesterday in Ikea's Life at Home survey, which lifted the lid on Singa-poreans' mealtime behaviour.

Half of parents believe it is important to get their children involved - such as by planning and preparing meals, buying groceries, cooking, setting tables and washing up.

More than a third of Singaporeans - 36 per cent - also said they enjoy cooking with others.

The furniture giant surveyed 1,271 households in Singapore between May 27 and June 3 as part of a larger survey that took in eight cities in total. Respondents were aged 16 to 80 and it was the first time the survey was carried out here.

The Republic fared the worst when it came to cooking at home, with just 22 per cent doing so almost every day - compared to 49 per cent in London, Paris and Shanghai.

Stockholm residents topped the survey, with 54 per cent cooking practically every day.

Singaporeans said the biggest hurdle to doing so is finding the time. Others pointed to the convenience of takeaway food (29 per cent) and lack of cooking skills (25 per cent).

Although the Republic is known as a foodie nation, just over half of Singaporeans said they were confident in the kitchen - the lowest score among the eight cities. Stockholm, the city above Singapore, was way ahead on 73 per cent.

A third of local parents said their children are not interested in helping at mealtimes because"they are too busy with their own activities".

Others feared that their children will make too much of a mess or hurt themselves.

A third of Singaporeans also wished they could eat with their loved ones more often but the biggest barrier to doing so was different schedules.

Half said they eat "more or less the same thing every day" for breakfast on weekdays, but were more adventurous with dinner. One in five Singaporeans eats the same thing for dinner on weekdays.

Cleaner and mother of three Candy Wai said her family eats together three days a week and has set a "no phones allowed at the dining table" rule. "Sometimes my children want to eat in front of the television - I don't mind as long as it doesn't happen too often.

"I would like to eat together more, but there is no point forcing them. They will stop enjoying family mealtimes then," said Ms Wai, who cooks for her children, who are all working adults.

Sales executive Amutha Kumaran, 45, a mother of two, said her family does not eat together on weekdays. "My husband and I work and the kids are in school. We don't always come home in time for dinner," she said, adding that she has a maid to do the cooking and take care of the children.

"Our schedules are too different. So we often just eat separately in different parts of the house at different times.

"When we do get the rare chance to eat together, we don't allow the use of mobile phones."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline Use phone during meals? We hate it but we do it. Subscribe