By Ashlee Bradshaw, Contributing Writer
What happened to the good ol’ days when family night consisted of a game of Scrabble or Monopoly, when dinner time was for conversation instead of status updates, or even when children were taught the ABC’s through a song instead of a screen?
I will tell you what happened. Technology: computers, cell phones, iPad, Kindles, game systems, and pretty much anything else with a battery and internet access.
Try imagining a family road trip in the 1970’s. What do you see? Perhaps you see a family of four packed into a station wagon playing the license plate game, singing along to The Carpenters, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company.
Now take that same family and imagine them on a road trip in 2014. What do you see? The four of them riding along in a spacious SUV, one kid watching a movie on the built in TV screen of the passenger seat headrest, the other playing on the Nintendo DS, while the father tries to figure out the GPS navigation system, and mom is shopping on the Macy’s mobile app.
What is wrong with this picture? The modern day family seems to be lacking communication and quality time spent with one another.
Society has put so much weight on technology. We depend on it for pretty much everything anymore, but what people aren’t realizing is the detrimental effects that it has on our personal relationships, specifically, family.
I am not dissing technology, in fact I love technology. However I do feel that there is a time and a place for it, and that is when it is not affecting family time.
Bottom Line: How is Technology affecting Your Family?
Whether it is you checking your email or your teenager Tweeting their life away, time spent on technology is limiting your family’s communication, interaction, quality time, and opportunities to make memorable moments.
This becomes a snowball effect in the home, if you (or a family member) are focused on something other than being in the moment with your family, you are decreasing your communication with them which then decreases overall interaction, hindering quality time, and eliminating the opportunity to make memorable moments with those you love.
Alternatives to Technology
Although technology takeover is a threat to most homes in modern day, there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent technology from taking over your home and affecting your family. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can restore quality family time in your home:
Spend Less Time Online
I am not saying cut technology out of your life completely. It is 2014 and I am realistic, but start small. We started a “No Technology Tuesday” tradition in our home where we eliminate all forms of technology (with the exception of a few texts and phone calls) for the entire day.
Limit TV, Computer, and Game Time
If your children are used to playing a lot of Xbox or watching hours of TV, this might be a bit difficult, but it is for the better. Encourage your children (or yourself) to spend less time doing these activities and more time socializing with friends and family.
Encourage Conversation When the Family is Together
If everyone is in the same room, get a good conversation going about something that will interest everyone rather than the typical “How was your day?” question. Get creative and think up things that will really grab your family’s attention. Perhaps talk about an exciting upcoming event, begin planning a family vacation, or come up with fun projects to do together.
Schedule Family Nights (no technology allowed)
Arrange a weekly or bi-weekly family night which consists of nothing but quality time with your family. Play board games, Charades, build something together, visit a museum or the zoo, or anything that doesn’t require technology.
Save it for Later
A lot of times, we get on the computer to perform a simple task, look up one thing, or respond to one quick email, but it ends up turning into something a bit more complex and time consuming. Unless it is something that is time sensitive, or extremely important, just save it for later. Add it to the to-do list and aim to get it done when the kiddos are napping or in bed.
These are just a few simple tips to stop technology from taking over your home and affecting your family. It is important to limit technology in the home for so many reasons, not only because of it’s negative impacts listed above. Reducing technology and increasing family time will help build and strengthen your relationship and communication with them.