Are mobile devices taking up too much of your family time? If you’re like countless families around the country, you’ve probably seen people pulling out electronic devices and tuning out the world around them, even during rare opportunities to see friends and family face-to-face – so let’s look at some ways to get family time back again.
1) Limit Access During Certain Times
If digital devices aren’t allowed within a set frame of time – dinner until bedtime is a popular choice – you’ll be able to start doing other things as a family, such as:
- Helping Teens With Their Homework: Parental involvement is a great way of helping teens actually learn the material they’re supposed to be studying. Keeping busy with another task will help teens learn to stop reaching for their mobile device every time they feel a twinge of boredom, and the more they resist, the easier it will be to stay away in the future.
- Playing Games Together: That’s right, you can play games without electronics… and it works even better if those games help to encourage creativity and problem-solving, .
- Family Talks: Sometimes, all you really need to do is sit down and discuss how things are going. You can ask about your child’s life, tell them stories of your own day, and generally form a relationship besides being ‘the person who feeds me’.
2) Leave The Phone Behind For Events
Few things bother children more than the sense that they’re being ignored in favor of the latest meaningless tweet – and according to observations by Dr. Jenny Radesky, parents are often just as guilty as their children when it comes to getting distracted.
The simple solution?
Leave the phone behind (gasp). Lock it in the car, or even leave it entirely at home, so you can give your full attention to what’s going on. However, this won’t be as effective if only one member of the family does it – everyone needs to do it for every event or your efforts to detox won’t go anywhere.
3) Keep Phones Out Of The Bedroom
Phones ring for long enough to get up, leave the room, and go to wherever it is so you can pick it up – and there’s no particular need to have it in your pocket for instant access at all times.
Admittedly, mobile devices do encourage keeping them on you 24/7, but there’s a time when all the beeping and buzzing can get to be too much. Experts agree that there are two things that the bedroom should be used for, and checking your smartphone isn’t one of them.
4) Digital Detox Day
Finally, when you’re feeling brave enough, you can look into putting your phone aside for the whole day. Set a good example for your teens; you lived just fine before it came into your life, and you don’t need it with you if you’re going on a weekend excursion with your family. Alternatively, you can keep one phone with you for actual emergencies, but turn off all notifications and refuse to take it out for anything else.
Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.