I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog How to balance family, technology

We live in a culture where even intact families may not spend much time together as a family. There are long work hours, especially in a struggling economy. There is school for the kids, jobs and maybe even taking care of elderly family members.

But aside from those more normal situations, we are inundated with technology. For many, their cell phones connect the owners to work and, even at home, they are involved with their job. We give our children cells phones at a young age and they learn to text and communicate with friends at all hours of the day and, too often, at night as well.

Others become addicted to video games and spend as much time as possible gaming alone or with friends. In fact, every member of the family may have reason to be on their cell phones, tablets, or computers. Virtual experiences often take the place of real face-to-face connections.

Online friendships are shallow and transient and can turn quickly into bullying if one says the wrong thing or in the wrong way. Even when the family gathers for a meal, they aren’t really sharing their day when each is ready to check their cell phones when they whirr or beep. “I’ve got to get this.”

Technology, if not restricted with boundaries, separates and divides friends and families. It is hard to take interest in your child sitting at the table trying to share about his or her day, when mom or dad won’t stop looking at their phone, answering texts or emails, or playing a game.

How discouraging to know, as a child, you are not more important to your parents than their technology. Why not immerse yourself in your phone? It is certainly better than being ignored. Many children spend so much time on their phones, playing games, or watching videos, they never learn how to focus and their bodies do not get enough exercise to keep them healthy.

Families lose out when they build faux relationships through technology rather than appreciating, interacting and caring for their real family who needs them. Children need parents who care by being present, by listening and responding, and who aren’t always sneaking looks at their phones.

Families and individuals to be healthy need time away from technology. Time with others to talk, interact, laugh and share. It may take setting boundaries for parents as well as children.

Boundaries may include the following though your guidelines will depend on your family:

Eating at least one meal a day together as a family–actually asking questions and listening.

No tablets or cell phones are at the table.

When someone wants to speak to you, give them your full attention–no sneak cell peaks.

No technology after lights out–even if that means collecting tablets and phones before bedtime.

Schedule time as a family to play card or board games. There are any number of games that can involve the whole family.

These are only a few ideas for having healthier relationships between technology, yourself and your family.

Yes, I love my laptop and tablet. We still have a home phone, but I wouldn’t leave home without my cell. I see it not only as a way to keep in touch, not only to be able to use the GPS function as I can get lost in a paper bag, but also as a safety in case something happens, and we need emergency services.

But setting boundaries makes our lives richer and our families stronger.

Today is a good day to start caring enough to set some restrictions.

© 2021 Carolyn R Scheidies

My Kearney Hub column published 12/06/2021

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