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Parents And Their Obnoxious Videos

I am currently sitting in my favorite cafe. I come here once per week because my work schedule has me around the corner and the food is good. Tuesdays are my longest work day (about 15 hours, typically) and I only have 30 minutes for lunch. I come here to clear my head, have some peace and quiet and eat a quick bite.

There is a table across the restaurant that has two small children (ages 2 and 4, probably) that are watching a movie on their mom’s phone so loud that I cannot hear the restaurant music being played on the speaker directly above my head.

I have noticed an onslaught of this type of behavior recently. Apparently it is becoming socially acceptable to play loud and annoying videos in public, without consideration of others. What happened to headphones?? It’s not just children either, adults are plenty guilty. I’ve had this happen on airplanes, subways, restaurants and even in the gym. It’s so annoying and rude in my opinion.

Any thoughts? 1017-17



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  • Mizz Etiquette August 23, 2018, 7:54 am

    We have an upscale restaurant in our area that had this issue.

    The children were playing the videos so loud that other diners complained. When asked by the staff to please turn it down, the parents refused.

    The restaurant enforced a new rule – no children under 8 (or 5) allowed. It caused an uproar and the majority of people stood WITH the restaurant. And this place is fine dining. I don’t understand why anyone would want to take children there anyway. It’s a “date night” type place. And it’s also plastered all over the website – NO CHILDREN’S MENU AVAILABLE

    If you’re going to take your kid out to eat with you, don’t give them a device to play with. You brought them out – why don’t you interact with them and spend quality time with them. You know…be a parent and spend time with your kids!

    • Charliesmum August 23, 2018, 11:59 am

      Omg, that bothers me SO MUCH. Why do people take children to non-child friendly restaurants? Part of parenthood is understanding that you are pretty must relegated to restaurants with crayons on the table if you dine out with your offspring. Why take a child to a fancy place where they will be bored and likely not like any of the food? It makes no sense. And why bother spending time with your child in a place like that if they’re only going to be watching a movie anyway?

    • Bernadette August 23, 2018, 12:14 pm

      We’ve been taking my sister’s kids to restaurants since they were little (family restaurants at first). They learned how to behave in public and to taste and enjoy new foods as well as to always say please and thank you to servers. They were ordering their own appetizers and entrees at a very young age, and were never limited to just the kids menu unless that’s what they wanted. They learned to really enjoy going out and sharing a great meal.
      They are now in their late teens/early twenties and LOVE going out to eat – whether upscale or casual. It’s something we all still love to do together. And let me assure you, they were NEVER allowed to annoy other diners, leave the table, or do anything rude or obnoxious. We had more than one person give us the eyeball when they’d see us with small kids being seated near them – only to be surprised at how well behaved they were.
      Totally agree with you – if you’re taking kids out to eat with you, engage with them and keep the electronics off the table!

      • Bea August 23, 2018, 6:03 pm

        My parents took us out for special occasions when we were young. We loved it. It was awesome.

        Other kids have no interest in it and start acting out. I feel bad for the kids and annoyed with the parents who need to find a better arrangement. They deserve a meal out but not at the expense of a dining room full of strangers trying to enjoy themselves!

      • Rebecca M August 25, 2018, 8:39 am

        It truly depends on the children. We’ve taken my toddler out her whole life, and she knows to behave. My husband and I made a deal that if she ever acts up, one of us immediately takes her outside while the other pays and gets the doggy bags. So far we’ve never had to do it, but she’s still young. And she will happily munch away on any adult food, except for cherry tomatoes.

        We do take toys and books for her, but quiet ones. There’s no need to bring something noisy to a public place. And once the food comes, the toys go away. I’m not going to pretend that it’s all down to our parenting… she’s just always been a calm kid and a good eater. I’m just saying you can’t assume every kid will be a nightmare at an “adult” restaurant.

    • MzLiz August 26, 2018, 3:00 pm

      I actually think it’s being rude to the child when they get fobbed off with screens, headphones or not. They’re part of the dining group, they should have interaction & be a part of the experience. I understand wanting adult time but that’s what you get a sitter for. I mean, if you’re the kid’s parent then you made this person. It’s a shame you don’t find your own handiwork interesting enough to engage with.

    • stampysmom August 27, 2018, 2:14 pm

      Back when my guys were 6 and 4 we took a family vacation out to the West Coast for a wedding. At one stop there was a fairly fine dining restaurant that I desperately wanted to try. No babysitter of course since we were across the country. So each kid got a phone and headphones. They’re pretty good in restaurants but for the courtesy of the other diners we wanted to make SURE they were perfect. Went perfectly and we dined family friendly the rest of the time.

      One thing that makes me crazy – when I ask at a hotel about restaurant recommendations, please don’t just point out the closest McDonalds. Happens all the time.

  • BellyJean August 23, 2018, 8:09 am

    Imagine being on a plane… for 7 hours. 🙁
    I think it’s absolutely inconsiderate. Get a headset, or get the kid a book. There is no need to be that rude.

  • JD August 23, 2018, 8:11 am

    Being consistently noisy in public is not acceptable to me, and I consider it to be bad manners. But then, I’m so old school, that I still object to being subjected to canned music in about every store, restaurant, and elevator I walk into. I’d like to hear what my companion is saying, and these places rarely play music selections that I actually want to hear.

  • Girlie August 23, 2018, 8:15 am

    I don’t know when this started to become “normal,” but I admit to being just as put-off by it as the OP is.

  • ladyv21454 August 23, 2018, 8:25 am

    Oh boy – I am 100% on OP’s side with this one. Add to it people who feel (despite signs being posted) that it’s perfectly okay to listen to music on a bus or train without headphones. How difficult is it to go to Walmart and spend $10 on a pair of earbuds? And in OP’s specific example, I do NOT want to hear “Well, both kids are watching.” Fine – have them share the earbuds, one each. While I admit that you have to expect SOME noise in a public place, people who add to it with videos, music, or anything else that they could easily control makes my fingers itch to deliver a throat punch.

    • AS August 23, 2018, 2:16 pm

      They don’t even have to have the kids share earbuds. There are these “stereo-splitters” available for about US$20 that parents can buy for the kids, and each can have their own earbuds.

  • Melissa August 23, 2018, 8:33 am

    I think this has been an issue for a while. Over a decade ago, the phones that could act as a walkie-talkie were popular, and a lot of people didn’t seem to realize there was a mute feature, it didn’t always have to be on speakerphone. But even before (and after) that, we’ve got those who talk loudly on their phones in public (I used to say, at least with the walkie-talkie style phones, we get to hear the entire conversation instead of only half of it lol). I bet before cell phones were around, people engaged in some kind of other obnoxious behavior as well.

    The point is, there always have been, and most likely always will be, people who lack common courtesy. Whether they don’t realize how annoying their behavior is, or don’t care, they seem to think they live in a bubble. However, the silver lining in the OP is, if not for the sound of kids’ movie, you may be listening to the sounds of the children squealing, fighting, crying, running around, etc. The movie is probably the lesser of two evils there! It’s definitely still rude, but unfortunately in most cases there is little that we can do about it. You could try asking the loud patrons to quiet down, or ask the establishment to say something, but that could also escalate an annoying situation into a crazy one. It’s a tough call as to whether it’s worth it.

    • SamiHami August 23, 2018, 12:26 pm

      Ugh! Just a couple of months ago DH, Dad and I went out for lunch. The food was good, the service was good, but this one guy ruined it. He was videochatting with his girlfriend throughout the entire meal. He had the volume turned up very loud so we heard both sides of the nonstop conversation. So rude and annoying.

      • Gumby August 23, 2018, 6:48 pm

        I am always soooo tempted to join in on the conversations when that happens. I mean, clearly they meant to include me, right?

      • subtlysuprised August 24, 2018, 8:27 am

        whats the difference of the conversation on Facetime with someone, than them talking to each other in person? would you jump in on a conversation someone has with another body if they are physically present?
        I’m not condoning his actions but the reality is, people may not be aware that what they are doing isnt socially accepted and getting agitated without any action is more on you than them.

        • LizaJane August 24, 2018, 11:44 am

          If people are talking face to face loudly enough that I can’t escape hearing every.single.word over the conversation I’m having with my lunch partner, there is no difference.

          What action do you suggest before agitation?

  • DGS August 23, 2018, 8:48 am

    Is it very rude to play one’s music loudly in a public place, and it would certainly be appropriate to ask the offending party (in this case, the parents) to turn the music down. However, why title the submission Parents and their Obnoxious Videos? The OP even admits in the last paragraph that plenty of other adults are guilty of the same transgression. Why not, teenagers and their obnoxious videos? Or, curmudgeonly baby boomers who are too proud to wear hearing aids and their obnoxious videos? Or, people at the gym in skimpy gym clothes and their obnoxious videos? Regardless of one’s age, childbearing status, etc., it is rude to play one’s private music loudly in public spaces.

    • rindlrad August 28, 2018, 5:36 pm

      I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s because the story is about a MOM (i.e., PARENT) who allowed her CHILDREN to watch a video on her phone in public so loudly that it disturbed other people (this would be the OBNOXIOUS part). Hope that helps clear up any confusion you may have regarding why teenagers, Boomers, or any other random, unrelated things NOT MENTIONED in the submission did not appear in the title.

  • VickyJoJo August 23, 2018, 8:58 am

    Doesn’t matter who the offender is, it is extremely rude to play music/videos, etc loud in public. Use headphones. In the OP’s post, it was 2 kids watching and believe me there are dual headset options to be used. The funny thing is if there was another table playing an inappropriate video near this parent, she/he would be the first one complaining.

    And it is not limited to videos or music off the phone or computer. I will take it a step further. I hate when cars have their music up so loud that I can not only hear it through my closed window but it drowns out my music as well. There is just too much noise in the world today without adding to it.

    • ladyv21454 August 23, 2018, 11:01 am

      My feeling is that if your music is rattling my windows, it is TOO DAMNED LOUD. If someone wanted to make a fortune, they would come up with a device that would automatically short out any car sound system that went over a set decibel level. You could put it outside your house and it would work automatically. I’d sure buy one!

      • Sarah August 24, 2018, 5:06 am

        There actually is a system for wedding music; if it goes over a certain amount of decibels, it automatically turns off.

      • BMS2000 August 24, 2018, 10:26 am

        Speaking from experience, I know that if you crank it too loud, or you forget to turn it down before you turn the car off and then turn it on when the volume is cranked, you can kill the speakers.

        I have killed speakers on 3 cars.

        Driving around listening to my music loud is a total blind spot for me. I am truly not trying to annoy people around me – I just really, really love listening to music and singing while I drive. Since I have a convertible, I tend to turn it up loud to hear over the road noise when I am driving fast, and then I forget to turn it back down when I get onto the slower roads. I hereby apologize to anyone who has been subjected to my music unintentionally…

    • Michelle August 23, 2018, 11:10 am

      Oh, I so understand the loud music in cars thing. There is no way they can be enjoying the music if it’s so loud it hurts my ears. We have a neighbor who plays loud bass music when he leaves for work late at night (11:30pm) and when he returns in the morning. God forbid you are actually trying to sleep because his boom, boom, boom is more important than rest!

      • Melissa August 24, 2018, 10:04 am

        I have a neighbor who, I’m guessing, has to listen to the rest of the song when he pulls into his driveway. He does not bother to turn it down at all, so I’m stuck hearing the boom, boom, boom, for a few minutes until he turns the car off and goes inside. Fortunately our bedroom is in the back of our house, and we always have a loud fan on at night, so it only disturbs my rest if I’m napping in the front living room, but it’s still pretty annoying!

        I remember as a teenager, having friends with super loud systems in their cars, and the bass always annoyed me then too. I turn my music up loud (mostly to drown out my own singing voice lol), but not deafeningly loud!

    • Devin August 23, 2018, 11:51 am

      I wouldn’t even have to be an offensive or inappropriate video. If another person sat down at a table near by and did the exact same thing, played a children’s video on full volumn for two of their own children, the first mother would complain. These people seem to think they live in a bubble, but if everyone played videos, music, podcasts, and talked on speaker phone in every public place, no one would’ve able to enjoy any of their music or conversations.
      I’m always tempted to put my music on for the whole train when someone else walks on with theirs at full volume, or to join in on speaker phone conversations, but I’m not looking for a fight, I’m just trying to get home to enjoy the peace and quiet of my own house.

      • LizaJane August 24, 2018, 11:36 am

        You are so right. The chances of Mom #1 understanding that Mom #2 had the same rights are slim, I’m afraid. But we should all try this and report back here.

    • ALM August 23, 2018, 2:47 pm

      ” I hate when cars have their music up so loud that I can not only hear it through my closed window but it drowns out my music as well. ”

      It’s summertime where I live and when the weather is fine, people cruise down my street blasting their car speakers and set off my house alarm because the noise is so loud it rattles the windows. I can’t tell if it’s just the usual obnoxious or if they are trying to figure out if I forgot to set the alarm and if it’s safe to break in again. One week they set it off 5 times in one week, 3 times on the same Saturday.

    • BMS2000 August 23, 2018, 3:07 pm

      OK, I may be guilty of the car thing. I’ve got a convertible, and one of my greatest joys in life is driving around listening to music and singing along. If the guilty party in your case was a suburban mom in a red Mustang, I truly apologize. I try to turn it down when I’m in a neighborhood or city traffic, but I totally admit to having blown out the speakers on at least 3 cars.

      Mea maxima culpa….

    • Dawn August 27, 2018, 9:35 am

      I’m afraid that a lot of people have gotten severe hearing damage. That’s the only way to explain how loud they listen to their music publicly.

      It’s either that or they want to inflict pain on others, and I’d really rather not believe that.

  • Mary Sgree August 23, 2018, 9:02 am

    I’ve seen and heard this too and wonder why they do it. It’s like the ones that take a phone call in a public place and talk 10 times louder than they need to. The other day I was a popular but quiet craft store and an older woman went through the entire store, talking to her son. On speakerphone. We heard both sides of the conversation about him meeting his sons new girlfriend. I dont want to hear that to begin with but my gosh what an invasion of privacy. I was so tempted to go up close and say something obnoxious so he’d know she had him on speaker phone.

    • kikidee August 23, 2018, 11:47 am

      Once I was at a blood test clinic, and a woman and her daughter were Facetiming her adult son and talking to him very loudly for a very long time about many personal things (it apparently was his birthday). I am not sure what the urgency of needing to FaceTime him for his birthday while in a waiting room to get blood tests done was.

    • BMS2000 August 23, 2018, 3:13 pm

      Speakerphone is a curse upon the earth. The guy in the office next to me leaves his office door open while talking on speakerphone – maddening. When people call me on speakerphone, I can barely hear them over all the background noise. When people walk around talking on speakerphone, I get to hear all the details of their relationships or medical issues. It’s useful for conference calls, I guess. But otherwise, I really hate the whole thing.

    • kingsrings August 25, 2018, 10:49 am

      A year ago I was in a car repair shop waiting in the lobby with others. A woman wouldn’t stop having a personal call on her phone. So a guy started playing music loudly on his phone. That sent her outside to finish her conversation and not bug the rest of us.

  • Miss-E August 23, 2018, 9:43 am

    I think a lot of parents use videos as a means to keep their kids quiet and calm when in a public place. Without the videos you might be complaining about restless kids making lots of noise, getting up, moving around, etc. It can be difficult to get kids of those ages to sit and eat quietly, the parents probably thought videos were a good solution to the kind of stories we’ve all seen on this very site.

    I’m sure everyone has a different opinion on whether or not that is a good parenting tool (and, yes, I know once a upon a time kids were just expected to behave in public, kids these days yada yada), I’m not really trying to start a parenting argument, only trying to explain why the OP has been seeing it more and more.

    My 2 yr old daughter gets unlimited screen time when we are on a long flight and, believe me, that is to the benefit of everyone around us who don’t have to hear a fussy restless toddler. I do bring headphones though.

    Politely asking the family to turn the volume down is not unreasonable and I’m sure they’d comply, especially considering I think a lot of parents are actually trying to be considerate of other patrons when they let their kids watch movies.

    • BellyJean August 23, 2018, 10:05 am

      Absolutely good points all around Miss-E. And thank you for using the headphones!

      I don’t object to videos/games at all. It’s the noise. I’d be super annoyed if someone of any age walked up with a loud speaker and started blasting their music/video/phone call, etc.

    • lakey August 23, 2018, 11:16 am

      “I do bring headphones though.”
      This is the point. Whatever the person’s reasons for the video or music, they don’t have a right to inflict their noise on others. It isn’t in the nature of 2 year olds to sit quietly for extended periods of time. It’s up to the parent or parents to find a way to deal with it without ruining other people’s experience. I actually have more patience with a cranky or crying toddler than with a device being played without headphones or earbuds. The device noise is much more easily solved.

    • Lacey August 23, 2018, 12:56 pm

      Nobody’s objecting to the kids watching the videos, just watching them without headphones. If they really want to be considerate, use headphones. Problem solved.

    • Bea August 23, 2018, 6:09 pm

      I’m all for screens! Gimme gimme gimme! Just headphones are the key here. Kids at a table watching anything they want with headphones is a thumbs up from this lady.

  • Bernadette August 23, 2018, 12:23 pm

    People sometimes do this in the nail salon that I go to. It’s a very small shop, and they often have a “middle of the road” radio station quietly playing. But sometimes another patron will start watching LOUD stuff on their phone, or have their small kids (who REALLY don’t want to hang around a nail salon while mom gets a pedicure) doing so. I’ve also sat next to people who spend the ENTIRE time in the pedicure chair talking on the phone. For me, getting a pedicure is like going to a spa – I want to relax and enjoy the experience. Hard to do with someone BLABBING right next to me the entire time.
    I think in this time of everyone having electronics in their pocket and feeling the need to be available AT ALL TIMES, people have lost the ability to just unplug, relax and enjoy an hour of quiet time. I just wish I didn’t have to listen to it!

    • ladyv21454 August 24, 2018, 9:51 am

      This brings up another of my pet peeves. WHY do people think it’s a good idea to bring small children to a nail salon – or even worse, a beauty salon? Even if they don’t care if their children bother other people, they SHOULD care that there are a lot of things that present a danger to the children. My nail salon does paraffin hand treatments, and if I was a parent, I would be afraid that my child would pull the whole thing down on him/herself. It’s one thing to bring a child of, say, 8 or 9 to a salon to get a mani/pedi while mom’s having it done; quite another to have your children roaming around while you’re getting pampered.

      • Bernadette August 24, 2018, 11:16 am

        Totally agree about bringing small kids who run around, but I’ve also met some really sweet kids who behave like angels while mom gets her nails done. 🙂

  • Livvy17 August 23, 2018, 12:30 pm

    I think Oliver Wendall Holmes once explained that the right to swing your fist ends where the other person’s nose begins. This is the same principle. It’s true of noise / smell / entitlement, whatever. When you infringe upon others, you’re outside the boundaries of good manners.

    Personally, I think a lot of this stems from the fact that we have less and less social interaction en masse, and more less social punishment for bad behavior in those settings. No longer is “the cut direct” something feared by the average citizen, so I don’t have a problem being a tiny bit more direct by reminding folks to be more considerate, and by supporting organizations and companies that are prepared to do more than that to honor the considerate over the rude.

  • Jessie August 23, 2018, 1:13 pm

    I dealt with an adult woman in the children’s section of the LIBRARY doing this! Blasting videos that she was watching while her kids were playing. I asked the librarian about the cellphone policy, and she said people could use them as long as they weren’t disturbing anyone. Good policy. So I asked her to enforce it. She came over, watched for a few moments, and then asked the woman to turn it off.

  • AS August 23, 2018, 2:29 pm

    I was once on a bus, one guy was speaking really loudly on his phone. I told him to reduce his volume a little, and not only did he not reduce, he increased his volume AND put the phone on speaker!
    I know that city buses aren’t a quite-zone, and you sometimes have to speak louder than normal to be heard over the sound of the engines. People sometimes even start speaking louder than they need to in buses, because they can’t hear *they* other person, and it is psychological to increase your own volume (I have myself done that without realizing, until someone pointed out, when I reduced my volume). But you don’t have to speak so loudly that even the driver can hear you from the last seat!

    • ladyv21454 August 24, 2018, 9:53 am

      What gets me is the kind of things people discuss on the phone when they’re in public. It’s often extremely personal things. I actually had one guy that was on the phone to his girlfriend and was telling her in graphic detail what he was going to do to her when he got home. Luckily, before it got too far, another gentleman told him to tone down the language because there were ladies and children on the bus.

  • Calli Arcale August 23, 2018, 2:47 pm

    I have only rarely observed this, which leads me to think it’s not becoming socially acceptable. What’s happened is that new technology (smartphones and tablets in restaurants with free WiFi) has offered new avenues for the boorish to display their cluelessness.

    Yes, it is absolutely rude to play videos loudly in a restaurant. When there is a reason in the natural flow of a conversation to share a video, it should be short, and the volume should be as low as possible — preferably muted — and this sharing should be kept to a minimum. If watching privately in a public space and muting is not an option, headphones are a requirement.

  • staceyizme August 23, 2018, 4:07 pm

    It’s up to management to set expectations for staff and patrons. This could have been resolved by requesting a manager. If they didn’t/ couldn’t address it, you can simply withdraw your patronage. The 15 hour eorkday/ short lunch entitles you to the same degree of courtesy afforded to everyone else, but no more.

  • Lady Catford August 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

    DH and I have withdrawn our patronage from two very nice dining rooms because of the noise level. Both places have piano players who are very good and a delight to hear. Unfortunately the piano is so loud that we are unable to carry on a conversation. These dining rooms are quite large and it doesn’t matter where we sit, the music is loud.
    We have mentioned this to the management and have been told that there is nothing that they can do to turn down the sound on a piano. It is what it is! Nonsense!

    • LizaJane August 24, 2018, 11:42 am

      The manager obviously knows nothing about playing piano and isn’t bothering to speak to the piano player about it.

    • jokergirl129 August 24, 2018, 7:53 pm

      I’m thinking that something would have to be done to the room itself to dampen the noise. Because I’m guessing when the piano is played the sound wave isn’t being disrupted by anything so it sounds loud no matter where you sit (sorry if I’m not explaining this right. Having trouble finding the right words). Because if you’re talking about a regular string piano there isn’t much you can do to the piano itself to make it quieter.

  • FelFly August 23, 2018, 9:35 pm

    The first example that came to mind as I was reading this was the uptick of hikers that I have noticed – adults in the woods – who choose to carry portable speakers and play music aloud while they hike, which is exactly the opposite of what I want to hear while hiking and I concur, everyone just ought to put in headphones to be polite, no matter what the environment.

  • Rebecca August 24, 2018, 1:46 am

    Totally rude. It’s annoying on a bus or out in public somewhere, but perhaps not totally out of line. In a cafe or restaurant though, it moves into unacceptably rude territory, because these establishments are not really public places but private businesses, and people who enter are paying customers who go there partly to enjoy the ambience.

  • Sarah August 24, 2018, 5:08 am

    Why not speak to the manager of the restaurant?

  • Anon August 26, 2018, 2:57 pm

    I think the patrons with the loud videos may not realize how loud it is. I have a toddler, and have had to resort to videos on occasion. I am conscious of the noise level, and am careful to have it lower than the general room noise. We also seem to patronize rather noisy establishments. I have had to tell my husband and parents to turn the volume down sometimes too (when they are the ones controlling it), because listening to Elmo is not something I particularly want to do either! All of that is to say, there’s a way to do it that is not bothersome even if you don’t have headphones on you. Just ask politely, and I’m sure mom and dad will be happy to comply (I for sure would be!).

  • Jennifer Apple August 30, 2018, 7:53 pm

    My sister, bro-in-law and I went to San Francisco for a long weekend. We had one “nice” dinner at a seafood restaurant and we were seated near a middle-aged couple who were a couple tables away. They were watching something on one of their phones at a pretty high level. If it had been like a 10 second video, I could almost see it (even that is rude) but it lasted several minutes. We kind of looked at each other bemusedly–it was annoying, but we also couldn’t believe adults would be that rude.
    I find it no less rude for a child to watch a video with volume on. I don’t expect children to be perfect, but that is crossing a line for me. That and kids running around–also annoying for obvious reasons.

  • Bec January 3, 2019, 11:16 pm

    This drives me nuts. I was at an Xray place to get an ultrasound on my shoulder and a man well old enough to know better (40 plus!) was sitting in the waiting room playing some sort of anime fighting game at top volume with the most obnoxious sound effects. Everyone was looking at him really annoyed and he sat there oblivious. I was probably more angry at the receptionists who just sat there and did nothing.