Is Technology Destroying the Quality of Our Family Time Together?

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ARE WE SO “CONNECTED” THAT WE’RE DISCONNECTED?

THEN VS. NOW

I started teaching high school 16 years ago.  I used to see students having conversations .
. . sharing new ideas . . . laughing. 

Today, I see faces buried in screens.  Students are sitting right beside each other,
but conversations are fewer, and their minds are someplace else. There is less
curiosity and much more anxiety than I’ve ever seen before.

Technology
is invading our homes.

And it’s even scarier when this problem flows into
our homes—when it’s not only our children glued to devices but we parents as
well. How can we not be, when our phones allow us to send text messages and to
access our work email, personal email, and social media accounts? Then there
are all the apps! Budgeting apps, meal planning apps, fitness apps. Our phone
is an alarm clock, camera, and GPS.

But are we so “connected” that we’re
disconnected?

Recent studies reveal that American adults
spend up to three hours a day on social media while families spend only 34
minutes of quality time together each day. A hectic schedule and the increase
in technology are pulling families apart. And if we’re not spending time with
our kids, who is? Maybe it’s time to shuffle our priorities.

If we “unplug” for a moment to evaluate, how
much time
do we spend with our family every day? And when we are
together, how are we spending our time together? Are we “multitasking” on
our phones or distracted at all by other devices?

Years ago, many parents would try to give their
kids an edge in school by getting them computers or calculators. But today’s
smartphones have replaced those things, and our general reliance on devices is
doing more harm than good.

The new wealth is TIME . . . quality time with our
family. 

Family spending quality time together without technology.

Making quality time for our family.

According to an American study, more parent involvement helps children focus and achieve more in their academics. So, if we’re doing it right, quality time with our kids will give them the confidence to learn and to make mistakes.  They’ll grow up healthy—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Everyone benefits. But how do we do it?

1. MAKE TIME FOR QUALITY TIME

Prove that it’s a priority, especially if
you’re the head of the family. Take stock of the week’s activities and schedule
in uninterrupted quality time together. Make sure everyone in your household
can be there.

2. UNPLUG FOR QUALITY TIME

Lead by example and put your phones and electronic
devices away. Turn off the TV and move away from the computer.  But a word of warning: the silence might be a bit jarring at first.  Maybe it’ll be a little more focus than
you’re used to. What on earth will you do together? You’ll need to find
something that you can all enjoy and something that will bring you closer to
reaching your goals.

3. PLAN FOR QUALITY TIME

Maybe in advance of your “date” with your
family, you can discuss how you’ll spend the time—it could be a fun,
recreational activity, or something more practical, just as long as you’re all
able to spend the time together.

What to do with our family?

Dream
big and really come up with something you can all benefit from.  If it’s a stressful, busy time, especially
for your older children, maybe you can tackle something more serious like
browsing through college brochures and requirements.

“FUN”
ACTIVITIES

  • Play board games
  • Go for a walk or bike ride
  • Watch a movie

“PRACTICAL”
ACTIVITIES

  • Prepare and eat a meal
  • Tidy the garage (or another room in the
    home)
  • Work on a DIY project

“SERIOUS”
ACTIVITIES

  • Review a family business idea
  • Browse through high school or college
    brochures 
  • Go over college applications

How do we know it’s working?

As you continue to spend more and more time
together, you’ll want to do a quality
assessment
so you know you’re on the right track.  Here are some look-fors:

  • Are we having good conversations together?
  • Are we looking at each other more?
  • Are we smiling and laughing more?
  • Are we learning more about one another?
  • Are we sharing hopes and goals?
  • Are we sharing our problems or concerns?
  • Are we helping one another?
  • Are we learning what we need to pray for as a family?

“For where
your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34

Set
aside time for a family hour.

When the
Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) launched the Year of the Family in 2000,
the INC Family
Hour
helped many families benefit from their
time together. Beginning with a prayer, followed by spiritual reminders, an
open forum, and then a closing prayer, parents and children would then enjoy a
quality family bonding activity.

About the Writer:

Myra is a full-time high school teacher,
from Toronto, Ontario. She’s a wife, mother of two, and #AutismMom who loves
grammar, skateboarding, and making healthy food for her family. She’s a staff
writer at
INC Media Services.

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