Home Life and Technology
Every household is different, whether you have sports after school and don’t see each other until late in the evening, or coordinated times when you eat dinner together. One problem that faces households, especially now that we’re in the holiday season, is spending time in the same room, but in different worlds, in our tablets or cell phones. You may be in the same room, but feeling in different realities from the people you want to spend your time with.
A study by the Kaiser Family shows that children ages 8 to 18 on average spend over 10 hours and 45 minutes a day on technology. Considering they already spend at least 7 hours at school during the week, that’s more than a school day, spent escaping on their screens; And parents can be just as bad, spending 12 hours a day plugged in.
This problem is by no means intentional. Everyone uses these devices like they never have before to ask friends about homework, do their homework, or take a Facebook quiz on which breed of dog they are most like. It has become just as much a part of our lives as electricity or plumbing.
But all the same, it has put a strain on our family’s relationship building. As we spend time in the same room escaping to video games and blog articles, like the one you’re reading now, we spend time apart. Instead of starting a revolution and going back in time to some idealistic awareness about society before technology, we can take steps to balance their use in our lives.
Making a nightly schedule helps. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in the needs of doing just one more action in your phone, check the weather or check your Facebook status, that it’s hard to tear yourself away when you know you have more you need to accomplish before the night is over.
Dusty Davis, Camp Chaplin and all-around family man, suggested making a schedule. Even scheduling time away from your phone or iPad can force you to look at it later, when you realized that nothing new has happened on Facebook anyway. If everyone takes time to hang out in the den, by the pool, or at the park; take part in game night; or cook a meal together, with a strict rule against screens while occupied in these activities, you can have unencumbered time together— plus won’t ruin your device in the pool.
Of course, sometimes schedules are hard to keep too, which is why you can always remove them from the dinner table. Dinner tables are already places where you and your family have deep meaningful conversations as well as “how the chicken tastes.” They make for a perfect opportunity for togetherness that no one can escape until they finish their meal. And the statistics speak for themselves. Recent studies link time spent talking at the dinner table in direct correlation to high grade point averages, lower substance abuse cases, high self-esteem, and lower rates of depression.
So this month, while you all sit around the dinner table passing your favorite Christmas dish and making merry, you can always get a conversation going by asking everyone “What they are thankful for,” or “What was something great that happened to you today.”
Delegating time specifically for technology use can help too. During or only after homework is finished can also help cut down the times everyone is tuned in apart. Which may sound similar to making a schedule, but in this instance, instead of making time for you all to spend together, you’re making a schedule for the time you are allowed to use technology.
This way you know that kids are only using it to write papers, parents are only using it to pay taxes, and everyone is enjoying some time to themselves later in the evening when everyone is winding down for the night.