Thursday, September 2, 2010

Finding Family Time in a Digital World

Technology has certainly changed the lives of American families in many positive ways. However, the latest research is also showing that our new digital gadgets have contributed to the reduction of face-to-face family time (from 26 hours per week to less than 18 hours since 2007). Our attention has been splintered by buzzing cell phones, incoming e-mail and text messages, and of course the lure of the internet. Cell phones have given children more privacy and more opportunities to connect with friends, which means less focused time with family members. Parents have a much harder time knowing who their kids are communicating with and how much time they are spending connected to technology.

How do we fight this trend? Some families have made a house rule that there will be no talking or texting on cell phones when they are spending time together. This includes family meals, riding in the car together or spending time together with some other activity. Keeping gaming systems and computers in common areas of the house rather than the child's bedroom will make it easier to limit online time as well as monitoring the use of the internet. Parents must heed their own rules and not let a ringing cell phone frequently interrupt a conversation or one-on-one time with the children.

Dinner time is perfect for shutting down all cell phones, Blackberries and other electronic distractions. Taking this time as a family, daily if possible, can have a great impact on the communication between family members and go a long way in keeping family members close. What do you do in your household to insure technology isn't taking over your lives?

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