Take a Tech Time-Out and Reconnect with Your Family

tech time-outMy name is Laurie, and I’m addicted to technology.

Today as I left work (actually, I was already half way home in traffic) I realized I forgot my cell phone on my desk! I had a ton of things to do in the afternoon. I was on my way home to squeeze in a workout then pick up my son from school and meet up with someone who was buying a Craigslist item from him. If you were in my shoes, would you have turned back to get it? I don’t know about you, but my phone is a lifeline (sadly) so it was a no brainer – yes, I went back.

Experts characterize technology “addiction” (is that a real thing?) by feelings of withdrawal when you’re without it, compulsive checking of the phone and using it to feel good. Ok, so maybe I’m not that bad…

But I am guilty of being overly “plugged in” at times. Whether it’s my ipad, phone, or laptop, for work or leisure, you can pretty much find me with one (or more) of my devices at all times. Being a mom and a teacher I know the importance of technology for information, and of course, for all the cool things we can do with it – listening to music, watching movies, buying a new pair of Nikes, finding the nearest Lulu Lemon store, or pinning my latest DIY ideas to my “future home” board on Pinterest. That said, I do try to “unplug” and get my son to do the same, whenever possible. Here are 5 of our ideas. I’d love to hear yours!

Designate a Tech-Free Zone

First, we have designated a “tech-free zone” in the house, around our kitchen table. This is a sacred rule in my family. No phones, not even in our pockets! It helps us actually have a conversation with each other – I know, what a novel idea! It’s hard enough trying to pry more than 10 words out of a 17-yr-old male humanoid, much less have to compete with the buzzing, chirping, and tweeting that would be trying to interfere with our family time. I love this rule so much that we use it when we are out to eat somewhere. I know, I know, it’s basic etiquette NOT to be on your phone at the table, but still, I like that our rule is in place so there is no gray area, even for MOM.

Take a Breath of Fresh Air

Once every couple of weeks I try to plan something we can go outside – at the beach, in the yard, washing the car, whatever. This is GREAT family time with no digital distractions. It’s a refreshing way to get more face time with each other (and no, not the Facetime on your iPhone) and get some chores or some relaxing done at the same time.

Work Out

The human body is DESIGNED for movement! Every hour spent in front of a screen is time you COULD have used to get some physical fitness in. Can’t workout today because you have “no time”? Did you play Candy Crush today? Did you read your Twitter feed, post your lunch on Instagram, read unproductive emails, or watch TV?  If you answered yes to any of those things, you probably could have put on some shoes and taken a few minutes to better your health. Whether it’s going for a walk with your kids, or working out with a DVD in your living room, you are setting a great example for your family by making time for exercise.

Read

When’s the last time you turned off everything and opened up a good book? Honestly, this one is really hard for me, being the multi-tasker that I am (the jury is still out on whether multi-tasking really saves anyone any time at all, or just becomes a source of further distraction). Anyway, between my two children, my 23-yr-old daughter is a voracious reader and she can sit endlessly just diving in to a novel. My 17-yr-old son would much rather watch back-to-back episodes of Family Guy on his computer for a couple of hours (sigh). Me? I can make excuses that I’m too busy to read, but really, I’m probably just wasting time surfing for recipes on Pinterest… Note to self: Find a half-hour this weekend to read!

Pray

Reading God’s word is the ultimate way to unplug from the technological ball and chain, unless, of course, you’re looking up verses on the YouVersion app on your smartphone.  Spending prayerful, one-on-one time with God is an opportunity to grow spiritually and soak in His awesomeness! If you have kids, spending a few minutes praying together is also a practice that can solidify your family as a unit and that will bring you strength during difficult times.

Not that time spent using technology is inherently a bad thing, but it is pretty good practice to ditch our devices every so often. It allows us to reconnect with family and friends, increase productivity, and strengthen your mind, body and spirit. So whether you try one of these or all of the above, see if you can last without your tech for a few hours (or a day, or a weekend…) and spend some quality time with your family, unplugged, and actually making eye contact again. My hunch is, you probably won’t regret it!

Of course, when you’re ready to plug back in again, come here or to the Facebook page and connect! Did you take a tech time-out and live to tell the story? Leave a comment and tell me how it went!