In this modern age of technology and unparalleled busyness, it can be really hard to connect with your family after a long day. Once we all get back home from work, school, and our many other pursuits, many of us just want to unwind. What’s our go-to default for unwinding? We fiddle on our phones and tablets of course, or we get lost in our gaming systems. This technological disconnect is causing a real rift in the family dynamic; it seems we’ve lost the ability (or perhaps even the desire) to communicate with each other. Family conversations have degraded to being little more than a quick summary of how the day went, using no more than a handful of words. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that we figure out a way to reconnect with those who mean the most to us. It’s time we set some boundaries for our own good, including the implementation of house rules regarding when and where we allow ourselves access to electronic devices, and for how long. Try to instill some of the following guidelines in your own home:
Create a Mini “Tech Center” Or Charging Station
Designate a location in your house that can serve as a tech center or charging station. This can be a desk in the office, or a section of the kitchen counter – any space can be set aside for this. This designated area will house all devices once the family gets home in the evening. Let all of your other areas be free of handheld technology! Determine if you want devices to stay in the charging station during meals, for a certain amount of time, or even for all evening. It’s amazing to see what activities kids will get involved in once they’re not distracted with their devices! Even as adults, we become so much more productive when our phones aren’t distracting us with emails, texts, and notifications.
Set Time Frames
Create time frames for the household for when it’s ok to watch TV, play video games, be on the computer, use cell phones, etc. Have everyone in the family abide by these time frames, even adults. Weekdays and weekends can have different schedules, and you can build in an exception for anytime you’re using technology together, such as watching a movie or a show as a family. The goal is to promote interaction and unwinding, while also allowing an appropriate time for homework or chores. It’s important to make sure children see the adults modeling the same expectations for limited technology access; this will help solidify the routine as a true house-wide practice.
Promote Interactive Activities
Whenever possible, try to engage the whole family in interactive activities. Plan a board game night, a family bike ride around the neighborhood, or some craft time together. Get everyone working with their hands, and engaging in some brain-stimulating activities. This isn’t just good for family bonding; it’s also good for developing (and maintaining) healthy minds and intellectual stimulation. Really take advantage when the weather is nice, and try to go outdoors together. The fresh air and scenery can do wonders for relaxation and de-stressing!
Benefits of Tech-Free Time
Emotional development is a prime benefit of tech-free time with the family. Interactive play and activities require children to communicate with their siblings and parents, and this also helps children to develop the appropriate expression of emotions involved. For example, losing a game and not getting angry or pouting, sharing toys, taking turns, and so on. This goes for adults as well. We tend to spend so much time on computers, games, and phones that our communication skills start to suffer. It’s easy to get used to the solidarity of entertaining ourselves with devices and not having to interact much with others. Engaging in a tech-free environment at home helps promote the healthy interactions we all need.
Help strengthen the bonds in your family by spending more quality time together. Find healthy ways to give your mind the much-needed rest and relaxation it needs, without having to depend so much on personal technology. If you’ll be intentional and consistent with your follow-through, everyone in the family will find they’re a little more engaged, a little less stressed, a little more productive, and a lot happier!