A few years ago, my husband, Phillip, held out his hand resolutely and said to our son, “Please give me your phone.” Our then 19-year-old’s eyes darted to his buddy and then back to my husband. “You, too,” he said to the friend, holding out his other hand.
They both stiffened but did as they were asked, my husband’s calm but firm voice indicated determination so they weren’t about to question it.
Phillip took the phones and dropped them into a basket on the table. Then he added his Android, the I-pad, I-pods, remotes and a Blackberry.
“We are reclaiming dinnertime,” I announced. “No more texting under the table, watching TV or the old ‘Let me just look that up’ on the I-pad. We’re going to have dinner with family and friends and we’re going to t-a-l-k…you know, like in the olden days…”
It was like sucking the life out of these boys. They sat fidgeting in their chairs, eyes shooting to their phones every time they vibrated in the basket. They were jittery, practically sweating, like withdrawal symptoms of plugged-in addicts. These teens were plugged out of the world right now and had to actually communicate for a FULL 30 minutes with real human beings in front of them.
Phillip and I are not against technology in the least. Quite to the contrary, we are social media networkers ourselves connected via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, IM, blogging, texting, and even building a number of websites for several successful businesses throughout our region. Our company, ID CardGuard, purely revolves around technology.
We enjoy the latest gadgets and encourage our children to learn & use technology to stay abreast of cutting-edge innovation and advancements in the modern world. We Skype with family across the ocean and Facetime with friends across the miles.
One of our greatest teachers of the latest technology is our Uncle Danny! 80 years old, he can out-teach and out-talk any techie!
Technology can be very good if used for learning, information and fun with friends far away like playing Barbies or using the screen like the Smart Board at school for math lessons for Skipper and her sisters.
With the increased use and need for technology in our everyday lives, new limits had to be set. Call it Common Sense or pure frustration with overuse, boundaries had to be set!
When it comes to family time, enough was enough! With kids off to school early in the morning, sports and other extracurriculars taking up afternoon time, and little ones going to bed at a decent hour, dinner may be the only chance to spend quality time – so reclaim it!!
Even if it’s only 2, 3 or 4 times a week together, make it count.
Get a basket & sound the call in your family. It’s been years now since we’ve implemented “The Basket” and everyone – the family, teens and friends – all agree dinnertime is a lot more fun. We talk, we laugh, we joke, we communicate and we do it UNINTERUPTED!
One year, I was out with family & friends for my birthday dinner and someone at the table was sending out an e-mail on a small hand-held device. “I’ll only be a minute,” he said hastily when I gave him the eye. I asked him why he was doing it in the first place. “I send out e-mails here and there and it helps me save some time.”
“Save time for what?” I queried. “You’re trying to save up a minute here and a minute there for what? To create a pocket of imaginary “saved time” for something really special…like perhaps a birthday dinner with a loved one?” I don’t even think he hit Send. He pocketed the device, I pocketed my pissed-mist, and the evening was lovely.
There are so many people who are texting, tweeting and Facebook-ing people they aren’t with, can’t see and sometimes don’t really know while they are out with people they DO know who are sitting in front of them waiting for them to stop texting!
The Bright SpotTM – Be present with your kids, your parents and your real friends, they’re waiting for you to “see” them. Put down your techno-paraphernalia, hug your kids, look in your spouse’s eyes and communicate with the people in your real space.
Phew! Yes, I feel better now. Happy Parenting!