Welcome to Family Fridays, where we discuss the importance of reconnecting with your family. In the hustle and bustle of the digital age, finding a moment of peace and quiet is so hard to come by. It can be easy to simply hand our kids technology rather than engaging in real-world activities that challenge their minds and engage their spirits. Each month, we’ll look at new and exciting activities that you can do with your family to re-engage and reconnect!
We’ve all been there: It’s the middle of family dinner and conversation is flowing. Everything seems to be going great, until the moment everyone dreads. A phone rings. A text buzzes. Someone gets a Tweet or a Snapchat, your phone blows up notifications, and suddenly the great family moment that was being shared has evaporated and everyone is now glued to their phone screens.
The phenomenon of phones at the dinner table has become all too common in American households, and it seems like nobody is onboard with these digital devices invading family time. A new survey by Pew Research Center found that 88% of respondents believe it’s “generally” not okay to use a cell phone during dinner. 82% of respondents say that using a phone in social settings hurts conversations, at least occasionally. 89% of respondents said they had used their phone during their most recent social gathering, most often to read a text or email, take a photo or send a text. All in all, the results showed that 61% percent of people surveyed agreed that the overuse of technology has had a negative impact on family life.
Family meals are often the only time during the day that the whole family is together for long enough to have a conversation and reconnect with each other after a long day of work or school. This is also the time of day when parents can present themselves as an important and stable part of their child’s everyday lives.
The best way to help combat this might seem simple: just ask everyone to put their phones away until after dinner is over. But, as with most things, the solution is far more complicated than meets the eye. With the digital-media-obsessed world that we live in, often putting your phone down and away is more like trying to break an addiction rather than just putting the device down.
Here are a couple of tips to help you get started with breaking even the most smartphone-addicted family member:
- You want to set the precedent that your family is open and talks to each other. If this is the kind of behavior that is expected on a consistent basis, that’s the kind of response and behavior you’re going to get back from your kids.
- Parents are the role model. Let that work email go for a couple of minutes – your boss can wait when you’re with your kids.
- Teenagers need time offline in order to help establish opinions and ideas about the world around them that they’re growing into. Family dinners are the perfect time to help get their creative wheel turning, offline.
- Establish the idea that, as a family, you can talk openly about current events and feelings in an environment without judgment. This helps build a foundation where kids and teens can talk to you while you’re sitting with them at the dinner table, rather than just with their friends on Snapchat.
- Share what happened throughout your day with them as well as listening to theirs.
- You want to encourage kids to share the “best” and “worst” parts of their day, as this encourages more than one-word responses like “fine” or “good.”
As smartphones continue to wiggle their way into more and more social situations, families will continue to have to get creative when it comes to getting their kids’ and teenagers’ attention. The battle against the smartphone isn’t going to be won easily, but it’ll be worth it.
If you take any of our suggestions, be sure to tag us on Instagram and Facebook @nonahoodnews!