Technology is everywhere. Smart-phones and tablets are transportable, reasonably priced, and marketed towards every age group. Video games have better graphics than ever, with exciting new game choices and creative ways to play or interact within the game. Computers are lighter, smaller and faster than ever, providing a limitless potential for work, or entertainment. All of these devices can be useful, helpful, and entertaining, but there is a significant negative side to all of this technology. It is becoming more and more common to see every person in a group with their heads down looking at a device rather than looking at each other.
By focusing on devices, people decrease the quality of their communication with those they are physically present with. They may seem distracted, do not make eye contact, miss nonverbal cues, or need to ask for repetition of what’s been said. All of these behaviors send a nonverbal message that their communication partner is not important or as interesting as the technology at hand. In worst case scenarios, technology can also lead to harmful behaviors, including addiction, cyberbullying, and sexting. Technology can be useful and entertaining. However, if you feel like you or family members are addicted to technology, it is time to take action.
Establishing technology rules for everyone is important for preventing overuse. Yes, parents are included in this too! Monkey see, monkey do.
Quality time with family includes quality communication. These tech-free activities are guaranteed to be engaging and enjoyable while providing ample opportunity for communication.
- Go on a family hike, walk or bike ride
- Take a fishing trip
- Explore adventure activities (indoor rock climbing wall, ropes course, etc.)
- Volunteer together (soup kitchen, animal shelter, etc.)
- Host a board game night
- Enjoy family dinners at the kitchen table
Technology can provide fun group entertainment, encourage long distance relationships, and be a powerful communication tool.
- Facetime/Skype with family or friends who live far away.
- Enjoy gaming together (e.g. Wii Sports Tournament, family Minecraft night, etc.).
- Use the X-Plan, or similar family plan, to provide your kids with an easy way out of uncomfortable situations.
- Play a group app, such as Heads Up or Word Guess.
Technology is not all bad, however, it is imperative to find a healthy balance. Hopefully, these suggestions will help you and your family overcome the frustrating side effects of this digital age.