A 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average American young person spends more than seven (7) hours each day in front of a computer, television, or other electronic device. That’s a staggering number, and it comes with a set of consequences. All of that time spent absorbed into media means less conversation and less bonding between parents and children in the home. Too much media exposure also increases the chance that your child will encounter inappropriate content or programming. Take back some of those precious hours by creating a few key “No Media Zones” in your daily life. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Dinner Time. It’s hard enough these days to get everyone around the table together at meal time. Don’t squander it by staring at the TV in the kitchen or watching your kids text message friends while their dinner gets cold. Leave all phones away from the table, on silent, and turn off other distractions like televisions. Not only will you give conversation a chance, but you’ll all enjoy the meal more if you focus on what you’re doing.
2. Car Time. This may be as big a temptation for parents as for kids, because lots of us love our talk radio. That’s fine when you’re in the car alone or on a long trip, but when you’re driving the kids to and from school, turn it off and ask about their day: who they played with at recess, or how that math test went. Likewise, ask your tweens and teens to leave their cell phones off until they get home so you can catch up during the commute.
3. Family Devotion Time. A great way to quiet the chaos and bring some peace to your home before bedtime is to gather everyone for a brief family devotional time. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy with a three-point “sermon.” Just a 15-20 minute time of sharing about a fundamental truth that can encourage and instruct the way your family lives. You may be surprised what your kids share about their hopes, fears and concerns when given the chance. Without the audio of a cartoon blaring in the background, you may actually have some meaningful conversations and help shape your child’s thinking in key areas.
4. Play Time. One way to “cut the cord” on the electronics is to get away from outlets! Take a weekend trip to the park to play outdoors, or go for an iPod-free bike ride or walk. The fresh air and exercise will do everyone good, and allow you to focus on one another without distraction.
Related Resource: 5 No Electronics Rules
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