We often talk about the struggles of learning to manage technology in our lives. We know technology has its usefulness, but we also know it can take over our lives and isolate us from our families and friends. We have talked about the importance of setting limits on technology use and, more important, developing the character necessary to manage technology in our lives effectively. All in all, it has become a complex issue in our time. With that in mind, I ran across an interesting video (12 minutes & 24 seconds long) in which one man, Joey Odom, describes how technology impacted him in his role as a father and a solution he created to change that impact.
One of my favorite quotes from the video is: “If we don’t do something, this generation of kids…will die with more of other people’s memories than memories they create on their own.” Let that sink in. A family that interacts with technology through various social media apps more than they interact with one another will have “more of other people’s [family] memories than memories they create on their own.” That is sad…and frightening. The mere thought of that makes me want to find a way to better manage the technology in my life so that it does not rob me of my family relationships and memories. Joey Odom offers a solution (an app named Aro). I’ve not tried it, so I don’t know how effective it is. I do, however, like the idea of creating an environment that makes person-to-person interactions more rewarding than the technology of gaming or social media. Truth be told, most people do find that person-to-person interactions are naturally more rewarding than technology. The goal is to create a home environment in which your family can experience the rewards of loving person-to-person interactions on a daily basis. How you establish that in your family depends on you and your family. Some possibilities include:
- Making dinner time a “technology-free zone.”
- Establish other “technology-free” periods of time each day, like after 8pm or before 9am. The times would depend on your family schedule.
- Taking technology vacations. These technology vacations can last a day, a weekend, a week, or even a month.
- Don’t automatically pull out your phone when you’re bored. Instead, let your mind wander, strike up a conversation, or engage in some creative task.
- Don’t use technology to occupy your children and “keep them out of your hair while you get things done.” Instead, involve your children in those tasks with you. Engage them in the process (even though it might take longer to get them done).
- Enjoy time spent playing simple family games, indoor or outdoor games.
- Cook together.
- Develop family past times like biking, hiking, singing, baking…you pick the hobby that fits your family best. As you enjoy the activity, converse and have fun.
- Remember, as a parent, you model the best way to utilize technology. So model the importance of person-to-person interaction over technology.
How you choose to keep technology from robbing you of precious family interactions and memories is up to you. But the best way to start is with yourself. Don’t expect your family to do what you don’t do. You model how to protect person-to-person interactions from the intrusion of technology. Begin today. Replace the overuse of technology with loving person-to-person interaction…and create beautiful family memories.