Let me start this of by saying we are as guilty as anyone for letting our kids pass the time at a restaurant playing with their DS's and our iphones, at least until the food comes. But there are limits....at least WE have limits.
Last night, I took the kids out to dinner. As we were sitting at our table, I glanced over and saw a family of four sitting a few tables away. A mom, dad, and two young kids. Right between the two young kids was a portable DVD player. The kids were watching Dora The Explorer, RIGHT there in the restaurant. I tried VERY hard not to judge. We all like and need a night out, and with kids that often means taking them with you. We also ALL know, how hard it can be for young kids to sit still and if you're going to pay to go out for dinner, well you want to enjoy the benefits of all that going out has to offer, i.e. not screaming, whining children who are ruining what is suppose to be a relaxing and pleasant experience. But really, a DVD player right there in the restaurant?
I am pretty lax about these things. My kids often eat with the TV on, mostly because during the week we are not all eating together and I am doing other things while they are eating. (Feel free to just chalk this us to another bad parenting decision.) But for me, part of what I love about going to a restaurant is that we can just sit and chat together. There is nothing else to do - no other interruptions around. It almost forces the family dinner, and even better, when your kids refuse to eat it, at least you didn't waste the time cooking it.
If your kids cannot sit at a restaurant without TV, my first thought is you should not be taking your kids to a restaurant. My second thought is, if your kids cannot sit at a table without a TV, it may very well be because you sit your kids at a table at a restaurant with TV. Crazy insight I know.
In my effort not to judge (I think I am failing at this) I suppose it is possible some kids have "issues" that cannot be managed like most other kids and perhaps these parents were at their wits ends and just HAD to get out and did what they had to do to have a much needed break. I am choosing to believe this may have been the case, because otherwise....get the freaking TV off the table and talk to you kids, or at least scream at them to sit down and behave like the rest of us!