How to Enjoy Dinner without Electronics
By Sandy Schroeder
In a busy world, families often go in different directions every day, but they may come together over dinner. That’s the message that may actually work if everybody puts down their devices and turns off the TV to simply talk as they pass the potatoes.
When that happens, parents can actually find out what is going on with their kids, and kids can relax and enjoy some time with their parents, minus the commotion of the day.
I often discovered the most amazing things when my family sat around the dinner table and just talked. Taking turns to tell about their day, my kids often gave me a glimpse into their thoughts that could easily have been missed.
The Today show and CommonSenseMedia recently talked to parents about what happens when tablets, phones and computers are removed from meals. Melodie G., mother of Howie, age 8, and Hope, 5, said, “Device-free dinners have helped me realize having our undivided attention has brought us closer together, decreased arguments, and helped us be a stronger team." Another mother of kids, ages 7 and 11, said, "It's a special time where we talk, share, plan, and spend time together."
Just having a mobile phone on the table can undermine conversation, according to Virginia Tech researchers who said, “Individuals are more likely to miss subtle cues, facial expressions, and changes in the tone of voice with less eye contact, just because a cell phone is physically present.”
The Washington Post reported a recent survey that found 9 in 10 people feel their loved ones put technology first. Another observational study noted when parents and young children eat together, parents often give the most attention to their phones.
What to Do Next
Wherever you are with devices and family meals, it may be time to push the issue further. You may want to consider more ways to rethink electronics.
- Pushing electronics back from breakfast, lunch and dinner whenever possible
- Going without electronics for an afternoon away from work to play with your kids
- Taking short trips away for camping, hiking or biking, carrying phones only for directions or emergencies
- Setting up a quiet zone before bedtime reserved for story time, baths and quiet talks
Taking breaks from electronics could be the pause that feeds the body and the soul and helps all of us enjoy life more.
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