Tips to Protect Family Time from Technology

children emf emf detox parents wellness May 23, 2018

Technology has changed our lives, including family time.

While there are invaluable benefits—like the precious moments we can now record as photos and videos—technology also challenges family bonding. Especially when we feel depleted at the end of the day.

All parents can empathize with how effectively technology can soothe our kids (and us) when family dynamics get difficult. When we're too tired to deal with difficult children, it's much easier to allow family members to retreat to their digital devices. 

While technology can save us in these moments, we should also protect opportunities to bond with our children. Technology distracts children and parents from connecting and learning from each other, and it also introduces children to an online world that poses challenges. For example, social media channels and other messaging platforms often leaves visitors feeling more alone, anxious, and disappointed.

Studies indicate that technology is reducing the time that children spend with their families, outdoors, and interacting with friends. And, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this appears to have detrimental impacts on their health—potentially contributing to obesity, developmental issues, sleep disorders, and more.

Tips to unplug and connect with family

Below are five tips to help create healthy boundaries with technology.

1. Schedule tech-free meals

A family routine of tech-free dinners is excellent. All phones should be turned off, or set on Airplane Mode, to minimize distractions during family dinner. It is invaluable that we share, and listen to, stories about each others' days. Sharing our adult perspectives in age-appropriate ways can be enriching for our children too.

Once your family feels ready for more change, you can expand this house rule to apply to other meals too. If implementing this rule for all dinners seems impossible, then start by aiming for one meal a week.

2. Schedule sports or other non-tech activities

As a parent of three kids, I appreciate how effectively technology can pacify bored, restless, whiny kids. However, it's worth trying to introduce children to alternative ways to deal with their boredom. 

Scheduling non-tech activities, like sports or helping with preparing dinner, are some healthy strategies. And enrolling your child in a team activity—like a soccer league or theatre class—helps develop their social and emotional skills too.

3. Schedule weekend "dates"

Pinning a weekend afternoon or evening that is designated for a family—non-digital—"date" is another great routine. Examples of family activities include playing board games, gardening, baking, cooking, or even just reading together.

Even better is a weekend getaway for camping, hiking, or fishing. 

4. Be patient and kind to yourselves when changing routines

All of us need to work harder to establish a healthier relationship with technology. This also involves changing habits, which is really hard for any individual—never mind a family unit!

When things don't work out according to plan, just pat yourself on the back for trying to change your family's dynamic. It's hugely valuable simply to recognize the problem. After any ("failed" or successful) attempts, learn from your experience and tweak the approach for the next attempt.

5. Develop a "home" for your wireless devices

I'm a big fan of developing a "home," or charging station, for my family's wireless devices—laptops, cellular phones, and iPads. It's really helped compartmentalize our time on digital screens, and I think home is more serene without charging cables and technology devices scattered throughout.

Please share your experience!

Technology will continue to offer evolving benefits and challenges. Do you have tips and experiences that could help others? If so, please share them in the comments section below!

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