Technology shapes our lives for better or for worse. Although it’s impossible to ignore all the positive aspects of technology, it also can get in the way of trying to stay connected with friends and family in real life. With laptops, cellphones, tablets, televisions and video games, screen time can get in the way of family face time. If your family is having this problem, here are a few ways to reconnect by disconnecting from technology:
Brainstorm Alternatives to Screen Time
Technology is not only a form of a communication, it’s a form of entertainment as well. Portable DVD players are great for long road trips, iPads are a lifesaver in the doctor’s waiting room and video games are great entertainment while dinner is being made. In our modern world, you can’t take away screen time without providing an alternative form of entertainment. Have a family meeting to brainstorm other activities to replace screen time, such as arts and crafts, legos, books and playing outside. This also gives you the opportunity to create new memories with your family, whether it’s baking cookies or working on a puzzle together.
Be a Good Example
Make cutting back on technology a family affair. If you also commit to reducing your technology use, your kids may be more inclined to do so as well. On the other hand, if your cellphone is glued to your palm, you’re sending mixed messages to your kids about technology use. With everyone off their screens, you will have more time for family activities.
Set Parental Controls
Setting tangible parental controls, like a technology curfew, is a great way to start. Pick a time, say after 8 p.m., where your kids (and you and your spouse) are not allowed to use technology. Then, use this time to converse with one another. If monitoring your kid’s technology use is difficult, consider using the restrictions feature on your iPhone. This type of parental control blocks inappropriate sites and provides your child with educational games, giving you peace of mind when your kids are allowed to have screen time.
Enforce Tech-free Tables
Putting restrictions on technology can be difficult if it feels like it’s all the time. An easier starting point may be to enforce a no-technology-at-the-dining-table rule. When the whole family is seated for a meal, it is a great opportunity for quality time. Have a bin in the kitchen where everyone can drop off their cellphones before finding a seat at the dinner table, so no one is tempted to reach in their pocket and answer that text.
If you are looking for something a little more drastic, consider a technology detox with your family. For example, consider spending one day out of every week with no technology, and go on a family outing instead. If your family is in need of a technology intervention, consider doing a week-long technology detox where you’re only allowed to use technology for work or school-related matters. This might sound impossible or torturous, but you and your family might come out of it realizing you don’t need technology as much as you thought.