Hysterical ads with Will Ferrell show what happens when we bring our phones to dinner.

A somber family sits around the dinner table. They pass dishes of food around in dark silence for a few moments before, finally, the little girl mutters, "I'm not hungry."

"I miss Daddy," she says.


"I know," her mom replies. "We all miss him."

Where's Dad? Dad (played by Will Ferrell) is ... actually sitting at the other end of the dinner table, alive and well. He's just too busy playing with Snapchat filters on his phone to bother interacting with his family.

And Ferrell plays the exaggeration to hilarious perfection:

GIF via Common Sense Media/YouTube.

The video is part of a new campaign called "Device Free Dinner."

It's meant to be a gentle reminder to all of us to be a little more present during family time. And before you go thinking this is another one of those needlessly shame-y cellphones-are-ruining-the-good-ol-days-of-how-things-used-to-be-better-in-the-past-when-I- was-a-kid or what have you, the benefits of being mindful about when we do and don't immerse ourselves in our phones are backed by some pretty powerful research.

Studies indicate we check our smartphones dozens and dozens of times per day, mostly out of pure habit, and that checking your phone can make you more anxious than usual. We spend two to five hours looking down at our devices in a given day. Another study shows that even children under 8 years old are spending up to two hours per day watching shows and playing games on mobile devices.

This deep level of distraction isn't always the best thing for building healthy relationships, especially those with your kids.

A recent study conducted on rats showed that when parents are distracted by other things during bonding time — even if the total amount of time spent together is high — outcomes for children can be worse. Simply put, the rat babies went on to "enjoy life" less than their peers.

The point of Ferrell's PSAs isn't that phones are bad — just that we should be deliberate about when we're checking them.

Most of us aren't willfully ignoring our children to mindlessly browse Facebook. And, besides, there are plenty of good and valid reasons to check your phone. We don't need to throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak.

The idea of setting aside some family time, like dinner, however, where everyone puts down their devices for a bit and focuses on spending quality time with each other is a good one. Committing to a #DeviceFreeDinner doesn't mean you have to do it every night or that you should never have your phone on hand in case of emergency. It's just one way of making sure you're carving out some time to spend with your family — without digital interruptions or cat face filters getting in the way.

Not convinced or just need a laugh? Check out the first Will Ferrell ad spot below, then watch the other ads in the series on YouTube.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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