Healthy Families

Unplug & Reconnect

Unplug & Reconnect

 We've all done it before. Your son or daughter is talking to you and you are focused on the screen of your phone half listening to what they are saying.  How do we expect to gain our kids full attention when we can't give them ours? Technology is wonderful but sometimes it's more important to turn off the gadgets and focus on our family.  We have to lead by example and make sure that we don't get caught up in the 24 hours a day, seven day a week habit of constantly communicating with work, Facebook friends, and on-line searching. Kids may be even more inundated with video games and TV in addition to their computers, ipods and phones. We need to take a step away from the screens and make a plan to have to monitor how much time we spend with our monitors.

Cold turkey will be difficult for the truly 'plugged-in' family, so start small. Consider turning all electronics off for one evening.  Plan a fun activity during that time. It doesn't have to cost a lot either. Go for a bike ride, a walk or hike, look at old family photos, or just cook a meal together as a family. The key is planning ahead and making the effort. It might be so successful that you want to try turning off all electronics for one day a week or even longer periods of time.

We all know how important family dinners are.  Don't bring your cell phone to the dinner table or text while eating dinner. It takes 30 minutes or less to eat a meal.  Is something really that important that we can't wait 30 minutes? Nothing is more annoying than going out to dinner and someone starts texting or is looking at their lap smiling and not paying attention to other diners.  Your kids will pick up on this and think its okay to text during meals and not appreciate the time the family has devoted to dinner and sharing highlights of each other's days, or anything else going on in your lives.

If nothing else it will give you all a chance to look each other in the eyes for a change. We're in danger of raising a generation of children who, although they have instant access to hundreds of people every day, are barely able to have a normal face-to-face conversation. The irony of exploding social networks in the cyber world is that they are contributing to our young people becoming less socially confident in the real world. So unplug for a night! The family might enjoy this Tuning-Out activity, and you might grow a little closer as a family as you enjoy each other's company. Put down the device, step away from the phone and give it a try!