A common lament I hear from parents I coach is that there is less and less quality time spent with their girls as they grow up. In between school, work, homework, activities and friends, it’s difficult to carve out time to hang out as a family. Complicating the issue further is the pervasiveness of screens in our lives. We all know that our undivided attention is a gift to our kids and having a phone in our line of vision impacts the quality of our conversations and sense of connection.
How do we keep technology in check as it’s grown more and more entrenched in our daily lives?
- Start – and keep – talking. Talk to your girls about technology. What’s good about it, and what’s not? How does it feel to be on alert 24/7 for what others are doing and saying online? Does social media make you feel connected, less connected – or both?
- Model being fully present. Kids often feel as though they are competing with technology for attention from their own parents. As much as you can, unplug when you are together as a family. Turn off notifications. Turn your attention to your family as you dial down your own distractions. Role model being present.
- Take tech breaks. Girls in particular need to ditch devices from time to time. Turn off phones at least an hour before bedtime and keep them parked in the kitchen (or another central location). Prohibit devices during family meals. Reserve the right to designate certain gatherings or days as device-free. Don’t expect a high five from her on this one, but it is a great exercise!
- Become the teachers. Being involved in our children’s tech lives and helping provide perspective can give our girls a reality check and help keep the tech-derived drama at bay. As they enter the social media world (possibly in middle school), be a part of their social networks, be watchful without being smothering and share your lessons learned from social media (FOMO is real for adults, too!)