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As a follow up to my research regarding technology and the family and my blog, A Delicate Balance: Tech Time & Family Time, I decided to look at my own family’s use of technology. I then began brainstorming ideas on how to decrease technology use and increase family time without causing a revolution.
The first thing I noticed was that each girl was on her iTouch and I was on my cell phone every time we were in the car. So, I made car time technology free time. I am now off my cell and my kids are off their devices; we are talking, laughing, sometimes arguing, but usually singing to our favorite songs. This adds up to a lot of uninterrupted one-on-one time when you live in LA. I sure do learn a lot on the ride to and from school. Yes, the kids complained the first week or two, but now I think they enjoy having my undivided attention, and I feel more connected to what is going on with them. We have other technology free time throughout the day, but this was a small change that gave great benefits to everyone.
The other thing I noticed, the girls were often on more than one device at a time. They would be watching TV and checking their emails or playing Temple Run on their iTouch. So, we have begun limiting the girls to one device at a time. Unfortunately, the apple does not fall far from the tree. My oldest recently caught me texting while we were watching Modern Family. I guess we are still working on this one.
I also asked my clients and my friends, what they do as parents to limit technology time and encourage some good old fashioned “quality time” with their family. They gave me some good suggestions. I even got ideas from people I just met. On a recent family trip I sat next to a 15 year old girl who told me she chose to leave her phone at home so she could fully enjoy her family vacation to New Orleans and not be distracted. Imagine that, a teenager choosing to leave her phone behind.
Here are some easy, real life tips to limit technology time in your family. Be prepared to hear some complaining, especially if your kids are older. However, in a week (or maybe two) I bet they actually like it better and it may improve your family communication. These are small changes that could make a big impact. Remember, this means you too.
1. Turn off cell phones, emails, and texts at a designated time every evening.
2. Every once in a while replace family movie night with family board game night.
3. No technology at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.
4. No technology in car, on family outings or on vacations.
5. A technology free day.
I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to do technology. I believe each family needs to find what works for them. However, studies show that children that have some rules about technology use, no matter what the rules are, spend 3 hours less a day on technology. I also believe small change leads to bigger change.
What about your family? Do you have any technology challenges? What are they and have you discovered any solutions that you could share? We all learn from each other’s mistakes and successes, so I want to hear yours.
Next up, If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them. I am looking for ways people connect with their kids through technology. Tell me what your family does.