At the dinner table with my family, one of my sisters has started a little game. We are forced to go around the table and tell everyone our “highlight of the day”. While at first we were reluctant to take part in such a corny activity, I must admit that it’s become a bit of a ritual. And as it turns out, this kind of interaction is beneficial for health.

A recent article quotes research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, which found that children and teenagers who share three or more family meals a week are likely to have healthier weight and eating patterns, higher academic performance, and better relationships with their parents than those who don’t. They also enjoy better emotional health and higher life satisfaction. It makes sense – after all, we all need time to relax in the midst of our busy lives and overstimulated minds. And dinner time is an ideal place to do just that.

At first I thought: great! This is a super easy way to increase my family’s wellbeing! But when I thought a bit more, this actually wouldn’t be all that simple to implement. At my house, whoever’s home around 7:30pm will have dinner together. It’s not formal at all, and I’m lucky to say that we usually have great conversation (there’s so much diversity when ages range from under 10 years to fifty-something).  But there are also those days when someone switches on the television and we congregate there instead. On other occasions the phones come out, and people are too busy replying to texts or refreshing their Instagram feed to communicate.

It’s no wonder then, that back in the day, people seemed healthier and happier. Without all this social media to get in the way of actual socialising, families interacted as they were psychologically made to. My dad’s most recent catch phrase is “disconnect to connect”, and it seems that this is more scientifically backed than he knows.

I, for one, am going to make an effort to sit down properly to dinner with the family when possible. What’s dinner like at your place? Is it a priority? Or is it too hard to organise, especially on weekdays?

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.