An expert pediatrician says family dinners - without the TV intruding in the background - were vital for children to build social skills and get educated about nutrition.

Linda Burney, Minister for Community Services for NSW said, study reveals having a meal together as a family carries health advantages for children as it boosts communication.

She says, For parents of teenagers, there is evidence suggesting that families who share meals together reduce the risk of their adolescents taking up smoking, drinking and illicit drugs.

She said family dinners - particularly for parents with young children - have been discovered to be more crucial in the development of language abilities compared to story session.

The NSW government adviced families to share at least one meal together this week as an effort for Families Week that ends on May 21.

Eve Reed, pediatric dietician from Familyfoodworks, a childhood nutrition advice group said families struggle to find time for each other.

She pointed out that fathers of children older than 14 years spend only 2 hours per week with their children and mothers spend only one, according to the statistics.

Ms Reed said family meals are important in educating children about healthy nutrition, something they can learn from their parents.She says, When I speak about family meals, I mean without the television on in the background.

If the TV is blaring, people don't focus on what they're eating or on the other people at the table.

It is crucial for regular family meals together are established when children are young so they can reap the benefits early on and set them up for the future, says Ms Reed.