How to keep technology from taking over your family
For two years now, every Wednesday or Thursday night our family has been going out to dinner so that I don't have to cook, to get away from all the distractions at home, and to spend quality time, talking to one another. It's sad to say but I found that at home we all had a hard time disconnecting from our gadgets! This week we went to a family friendly restaurant and we noticed that most families around us were on their gadgets!
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Everywhere we turned there were kids on tablets or smartphones (depending on the age), even the parent were on their phones. Just that week I had heard about a mom at work who got a cell phone for her 11-year-old daughter but had her sign an agreement prior to handing it over. The contract outlined the rules she'd have to follow or the "privilege" would be taken away.
At first this seemed a bit extreme, but now not only do I think it's a great idea but I think the rules should also apply to the parents! I know of teens that are scarred by the lack of attention they got from their working parents as children because when they weren't working they were consumed by their phones at home. Thank goodness that my kids were vocal about me not paying attention to them when they were very young. This was the first rule that I implemented early on.
When I was at home with the kids and not at work, they got my full attention. The other rule I created early on was no cell phones during family meals and gatherings with extended family. I am surprised by the latter. Not all family members abide by those rules. As my kids got older and noticed that they would invite friends but stopped interacting with them I created another rule. I had a basket at our front door. Before entering our home kids had to drop their cell phones in the basket (and kiss me hello)! This one got some of my kids' friends angry at first but they quickly got over it.
Now that my kids are older it's gotten harder to impose rules, but I constantly speak to them about using good judgment as it relates to how they use their phones like not forwarding photos or texts that they wouldn't want forwarded to everyone at school and to make sure that they don't post their cell phone numbers on Facebook or other public places. Most recently, I had to speak to my daughter about using texting to communicate about sensitive issues with her college roommate. I'm afraid that this last rule will be the hardest one to follow by a new generation that doesn't understand the importance of face-to-face communication.
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