BODY ARTICLE

Eating at the computer

How New Media Affects Your Eating Habits

Computer has replaced the kitchen table as focal point of meals

When I read a new study about eating habits and the computer, I must confess that I was literally sitting at my computer eating lunch. Lunch seems like a great time to catch up on RSS feeds (yes, i still use those), check/stalk facebook profiles, and click around newspaper sites. But is it cutting into social time?

Surprisingly, no. A new study by Rochester Institute of Technology indicates that while individuals are more likely to have meals while sitting at the computer than at the kitchen table, and that they use social media as the main avenue to obtain recipe and nutritional information, they are not, in fact, less social than they were before.

Madeline Varno, a senior communications major at RIT and principle author of the study, says, "I sought to investigate how the explosion of new media is changing traditional notions of meals and how this is transforming human interaction ... As opposed to their parents or grandparents, college students do not see meals as a central activity in and of itself, either for enjoyment or communication. In fact none of the respondents I interviewed even had a kitchen table.

"Eating is now just one of several activities being multitasked at once, all of which generally involve computers and smartphones, including surfing the Web, communicating with friends via Facebook and doing homework," she continues. "This does not mean that students are any less social; in fact, they are often interacting with more people than if they were sitting in a dining room, but the method of that socialization is now directly connected to new media."

The study was limited to RIT students and Varno hopes to study the issue further. I'm about to get up and have a cup of coffee ... away from my computer. How does social media impact your eating habits? 

Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by lincoln-log

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