Is Technology Destroying the Quality of Our Family Time Together?
Are we so “connected” that we’re disconnected?
THEN VS. NOW
I started teaching high school 16 years ago. I used to see students having conversations . . . sharing new ideas . . . laughing.
Today, I see faces buried in screens. Students are sitting right beside each other, but conversations are fewer, and their minds are someplace else. There is less curiosity and much more anxiety than I’ve ever seen before.
Technology is invading our homes.
And it’s even scarier when this problem flows into our homes—when it’s not only our children glued to devices but we parents as well. How can we not be, when our phones allow us to send text messages and to access our work email, personal email, and social media accounts? Then there are all the apps! Budgeting apps, meal planning apps, fitness apps. Our phone is an alarm clock, camera, and GPS.
But are we so “connected” that we’re disconnected?
Recent studies reveal that American adults spend up to three hours a day on social media while families spend only 34 minutes of quality time together each day. A hectic schedule and the increase in technology are pulling families apart. And if we’re not spending time with our kids, who is? Maybe it’s time to shuffle our priorities.
If we “unplug” for a moment to evaluate, how much time do we spend with our family every day? And when we are together, how are we spending our time together? Are we “multitasking” on our phones or distracted at all by other devices?
Years ago, many parents would try to give their kids an edge in school by getting them computers or calculators. But today’s smartphones have replaced those things, and our general reliance on devices is doing more harm than good.
The new wealth is TIME . . . quality time with our family.
Making quality time for our family.
According to an American study, more parent involvement helps children focus and achieve more in their academics. So, if we’re doing it right, quality time with our kids will give them the confidence to learn and to make mistakes. They’ll grow up healthy—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Everyone benefits. But how do we do it?
1. MAKE TIME FOR QUALITY TIME
Prove that it’s a priority, especially if you’re the head of the family. Take stock of the week’s activities and schedule in uninterrupted quality time together. Make sure everyone in your household can be there.
2. UNPLUG FOR QUALITY TIME
Lead by example and put your phones and electronic devices away. Turn off the TV and move away from the computer. But a word of warning: the silence might be a bit jarring at first. Maybe it’ll be a little more focus than you’re used to. What on earth will you do together? You’ll need to find something that you can all enjoy and something that will bring you closer to reaching your goals.
3. PLAN FOR QUALITY TIME
Maybe in advance of your “date” with your family, you can discuss how you’ll spend the time—it could be a fun, recreational activity, or something more practical, just as long as you’re all able to spend the time together.
What to do with our family?
Dream big and really come up with something you can all benefit from. If it’s a stressful, busy time, especially for your older children, maybe you can tackle something more serious like browsing through college brochures and requirements.
- Play board games
- Go for a walk or bike ride
- Watch a movie
- Prepare and eat a meal
- Tidy the garage (or another room in the home)
- Work on a DIY project
- Review a family business idea
- Browse through high school or college brochures
- Go over college applications
How do we know it’s working?
As you continue to spend more and more time together, you’ll want to do a quality assessment so you know you’re on the right track. Here are some look-fors:
- Are we having good conversations together?
- Are we looking at each other more?
- Are we smiling and laughing more?
- Are we learning more about one another?
- Are we sharing hopes and goals?
- Are we sharing our problems or concerns?
- Are we helping one another?
- Are we learning what we need to pray for as a family?
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34
Set aside time for a family hour.
When the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) launched the Year of the Family in 2000, the INC Family Hour helped many families benefit from their time together. Beginning with a prayer, followed by spiritual reminders, an open forum, and then a closing prayer, parents and children would then enjoy a quality family bonding activity.
About the Writer:
Myra is a full-time high school teacher, from Toronto, Ontario. She’s a wife, mother of two, and #AutismMom who loves grammar, skateboarding, and making healthy food for her family. She’s a staff writer at INC Media Services.