Have you ever looked back at your life wishing you spent more time doing this, focused more on this person, or ever wonder where the times have gone? Now ask yourself, if you didn’t have technology or cell phones at your disposal to get in the way of those missed opportunities, would you still be regretting or wishing you did things differently?
Growing up, I know I was a pain in my mom’s butt. The biggest habit that bothered her off was always bringing my phone to the dinner table to text friends or check social media. I don’t know why I did it or why I had the urge to ignore my parents most of the time. Maybe it was because I was a growing teen that thought the world revolved around me, or maybe it was I didn’t understand and appreciate that moment I got on a regular basis to be with my family.
Next thing you know, I am off to college, and moved to a different part of the state. Four years later, I graduated and I am still living away from my family. I only see them a couple times a year now and the only way we stay in touch is through a weekly, sometimes bi-monthly phone call. The few days I have with them now means so much to me. Overall I have a deeper appreciation for the small amount of time I get to spend with them during the year.
Don’t get me wrong, I turned out to be a wonderful, amazing young man (or at least I think I am), who has been blessed enough to have such a supportive family and lifestyle. I just look back at my childhood and kick myself for not making the most out of those times when I was with my family. Being there physically just isn't enough. Here's a little advice, PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE!
COLD HARD FACTS
How many times have you heard or said, “Put your phone away!"? Everyone is guilty of doing so, but why is it such a rule to follow?
According to a survey by Pew Research Center, 82% of respondents believe using a cell phone in a social setting hurts conversations. So why is it a habit that we have grown accustomed to? With the reliance of technology and the need to stay connected to the world, there is an underlying consequence. The main negative effect of cell phones is losing the ever so rare “family quality time” battle.
How much time does your family have throughout the day to sit down and have quality time all together? According to a study conducted by Highland Spring Group, families spend an average of 34 minutes together. 34 minutes! That’s not even the length of one NCIS episode!
From the long stressful work days to the daily errands and chores that need to be taken care of, there just isn’t enough time or energy for quality family time. The study stated that one in four parents feel it is a daily challenge to spend more time with their children. So you really have to ask yourself, if you're with your family, shouldn't you be making it count?
You may be reading this article and be thinking that the kids and teenagers are at fault, but in reality ADULTS are MORE AT FAULT of doing this than children! That’s right, adults set the example for their kids. A study conducted by Dr. Jenny S. Radesky found that more than 70% of adults use their phones during meals, often ignoring or disengaging themselves from their children. If the number of adults using their phone during meals was based on a school grade, they would get a C- and would be in danger of failing.
How do kids feel about this? More than half of children think their parents check their devices too often and 32% say the feel “unimportant” when they see their parents on their phones and paying attention to them.
So when kids see their parents on their phones, they assume that it's okay. This creates a habit that is almost impossible to break. Stop this chain by becoming more involved in family time today.
WHY IS FAMILY TIME SO IMPORTANT?
Every parent strives to raise a happy and successful child. To do this parents need to spend a mix of their time and attention with their children. According to an article written for Child Development Institute, interactive quality time is important so:
1. The child feels important and loved.
2. He or she has an opportunity to model parent’s behavior.
3. The parent can observe and learn about the child’s strengths and weaknesses in order to better guide them.
4. The child has a chance to voice their thoughts and feelings.
5. The parent and child develop a stronger bond.
The main impact of technology on family goes farther than a loss of time. It also contributes to the development of children in a negative way. Seeing and understanding that you only have 34 minutes of quality time a day with your kids, why are so many parents disengaged and not taking advantage of the precious time they have.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? ACT ON IT!
So now that you're worried you might not have enough quality family time, what can you do about it?
1. Well first things first, you can have a permanent ban on anything technology-related during dinner time. This includes phones, tvs, gaming devices, and so on. Eliminate the outside distractions that cause disconnection.
2. Cooking together is a fun engaging activity to do. Showing your kids how to cook and take care of themselves is a great life lesson that you can't replicate.
3. Coming up with different ways to engage with each other at the dinner table is extremely important. Now i’m not just talking about the generic, “How was your day?” Find out what your kids are into and discuss different topics that could have happened. For example, if your kids love country music, ask them if they have any new favorite Blake Shelton songs, or if he playing nearby so you can go see him together.
4. Plan a fun activity or trip that everyone is interested in. No better way to grab the attention of your kids by sparking a fun vacation that they can help plan or decide where to go and do. No time for a vacation? No problem, a day at the beach or day doing something away from everything can be healthy for the family.
5. Find a hobby to do with each other! Whether it’s crafting, reading, finding an outdoor activity, or collecting stuff, find something you all can do with each other that everyone is interested and has fun doing.
6. Board Games! I loved playing board games growing up, from Monopoly to Life, board games are a fun activity that the whole family can play that’s fun and interactive!
Need more ideas? Check out 10 Ways to Easily Engage with Teenagers or 40 Questions That Get Kids Talking.
So what am I trying to say? As a young adult who no longer sees his family everyday, I implore you to take advantage of the time you have NOW. I always hear parents say how fast their children grew up and how they can’t believe they are already graduating college. I bet more than anything if they could spend more time and have more quality moments, 99.9% of those parents would go back. You only have so much time in the world, make it count. Don’t let your phone and technology disconnect you from the things that are really important in life, your family.