Put down your electronic device and just look at me.
Many people think this on a daily basis. You see Dear Abby columns about it and articles from doctors telling us to put down our phones and talk to our children. It’s everywhere these days.
I come from a close family with strong connections. It is interesting to me that we were able to become a close-knit family, since our addiction was not smartphones, but television. I clearly remember our family having t.v. time every evening as we would wind down from our day. When I was small, we would all cram into the living room at 8:00 p.m. to watch sitcoms and laugh together. Then, as television sets got cheaper, and cable entered the picture, 8:00 p.m. became the time for us to separate and go our own way. At its peak, my family would have 4 different televisions going, every night. My mother would watch some news program in the kitchen, my dad and brother would watch the game in the living room, and my sisters and I would watch our shows in the basement. If we really couldn’t agree on what to watch, we would beg our mother to use the t.v. in my parent’s bedroom.
I look at my family today, and see this same pattern, just different electronics. My 16-year-old stepson is attached to his phone, my 13-year-old plays XBox, my 10-year-old stepson can’t stop staring at his iPad, my husband plays PC games and I am still on the couch watching t.v. I’m embarrassed to admit how adept my 17 month old is at using Apple devices, and even knows which way to hold an XBox controller (they do watch you do everything). Asking any one person on this list to put down their respective electronics and spend time together is met with enthusiastic eye-rolling.
How did I let this happen!? I didn’t even have cable for years, I thought it was a waste of money! And, I didn’t buy these electronics for the kids, they were given to them as gifts.
A supermom cannot let this stand. So, strategies have been developed to get these drones to disconnect from their screen, and connect with each other. Growing up, my family always had dinner together, every night at the table, and the t.v. was not allowed. We looked at each other and spoke about our days and what was going on in the world. This is how my family’s values were passed on to us kids. It is still my greatest tool. When I find that our busy schedules have spread us apart, I check our dinner plans. Have we been eating away from the table? That’s probably why. Time to get this train back on track.
Another tool moms love to use, is game night. My 10-year-old especially loves this. When we showed him how to play Monopoly for the first time, he found he had a certain knack for winning, and therefore it has been one of his favorite things to do. The others often start the game with sarcasm and bad attitudes, but once the dice are rolled, they seem to relax and the interaction begins.
Now that we are going into autumn, there are outings to be had at the local farms, picking apples or pumpkins, navigating corn mazes and shrieking at haunted houses. No, leave your phone in the car, you will not need it. Well, maybe you’d better bring yours mom, so you can take cute pictures of your family! Ones that don’t include little faces peering into screens.