Technology is such an important topic to discuss with your family. Here is a family home evening lesson on technology. We are talking about how to unplug and regulate the use of technology in your home.
As we nestled in for Family Home Evening this week I had big plans. Often we don’t have a plan for our “lesson,” we kind of think of something on the spot or the kids share a thought. Some day we’ll be more organized, I hope. But this week I was ready.
The plan was to work through our family technology contract and revise and streamline it to meet the needs of our changing family at home… and ever-changing technology bombarding our home. Sometimes technology changes in a good way, sometimes not-so-good. It’s our job to keep up and adapt with all the changes.
HOW TO UNPLUG… CHALLENGE
I figured I’d start with me. Bottom line is that kids are like little sponges. If I walk around with my phone attached to my body 24-7 they feel justified in doing the same thing, right? So I told them how I challenged my sister to join me on a little “no-technology-when-kids-are home-from-school” experiment for a week leading up to our interview.
That way we could talk in the interview about how to unplug successfully. We wanted to have real results that we could share about how it felt.
I mean, duh, right?
Why in the world would I waste my precious moments with kids glued to my phone?
I figured I’d let the kids and Dave in on my little unplug from tech challenge so they could help me stay on track. Then we’d move on to their technology problems next.
But we never got to any contract revisions or any of their “problems” because right then and there when I mentioned my challenge Claire said, “oh good, because you’re always on your phone!” Lucy joined right in. And Grace launched into examples of when she needed me and I was too distracted to pay attention.
Oh boy, that was a fine how-do-you-do! So apparently I’m the one who needs to sign a contract 😉 I’m the problem, not my kids. And if I can’t control how much I look at that thing, how do I expect them to?
This is where the 5 Tips for Training Kids How to Use Technology post I wrote comes in handy.
A REAL TECHNOLOGY CHECK
It is true, my smartphone is on task a lot. To be clear, it’s not that I’m playing games or perusing the Internet. I’m generally on there for things like organizing carpools or writing a grocery list. You might find me turning on some music so we can jam out to do our jobs. But man is it easy to get distracted on that thing!
There’s always an email to reply to or some new Instagram posts to comment on so friends will know I’m thinking of them. All good things. But I believe that we live in a world where we are too “tuned in” a lot of the time. I love to stay connected, but we survived just fine back in the day when we sent hand-written thank you notes and only called people when we were standing in one spot attached to the wall with a cord.
It’s clear that this idea of learning how to unplug is necessary for all ages because technology is so complex and a big part of our lives.
Pros and Cons of Technology
To be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I love it because with a few taps I can let a whole group of young women know what we are doing for an activity that night. Grace can text me with joy that she got 100% on her test at school. I can see Elle in Hawaii sitting on a beach with new friends while I’m whipping up dinner in my own kitchen. Someone in Max’s mission can send me a picture of my boy sitting with some beautifully ancient Chinese ladies that was posted on Facebook.
I’m exposed to new ideas that motivate me. There are articles and posts with ideas that have changed our family culture for the better. Technology is miraculous!
Just as easily as technology can lift us up and help us celebrate the beauty we are surrounded by, it can deftly distract us from the most important things in life. We are too “accessible” in so many ways.
It’s like we have to hurry and answer a text so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings. Even when we’re in the middle of a real, face-to-face conversation. Or we feel the need to answer some phone call even when we have a whole slew of kids in the car we could be listening to or interacting with. A teenager can be sent something inappropriate filling their screen without any warning and know every detail of a party they didn’t get invited to.
LEARNING TO BALANCE TECHNOLOGY
There must be a balance. We have to learn how to unplug so that we can connect with each other better. I want my kids to learn that balance. It’s important for me to train them right here while they’re under my roof to seek out the beauty and set limits on the distractions. And obviously I need to keep working on that balance myself.
I think it’s pretty great to have a chorus of your own children to keep you in check at Family Home Evening on a Sunday afternoon 🙂
Needless to say, it’s been a good couple days looking my kids in the eye and engaging deeper with them without my cell phone coming between us!
We have had a whole bunch of triumphs and failures over the years with parenting with technology. I think it’s something that has to be worked and re-worked over and over again. We are in an interesting position being the first generation to raise kids in the midst of all this techno hoopla.
LESSON ON TECHNOLOGY
It’s important to remember that we are not here to be our kids’ best friends. We are here to train and guide them… which sometimes they’re not overly happy about in the moment. But I’m very confident that they will be in the long-run if we can set healthy guidelines with love and serious follow-through…which is often so dang hard to do!
Before You Start Your Lesson
As I did, I highly suggest you take a look at your own use of technology and make notes on things you want to work on to improve your own behavior. It is our job to train our kids by word and example. And our example is far more powerful. Try leaving your phone in a separate room as you ponder how you can connect with your friend, family, and even God in a more powerful way.
Technology Lesson Outline
Here’s a simple lesson outline to help you discuss technology with your family and keep the lines of communication open.
Hook: Start with a simple conversation starter like “what are the pros and cons of technology?” If you can, make it visual with a whiteboard or even a pen and paper. Make a list and discuss… there are no wrong or right answers.
Discussion Question 1: How do you unplug from technology and connect with others?
Discussion Question 2: How can we make sure that our family makes our use of technology a positive thing in our lives?
Activity: Play a game or go for a walk without any technology. Focus on connection. Take note of how it feels to spend quality time without any technology involved.
Alternative Activity: If your kids are at an age where they are just getting a cell phone, going through the technology contract together as a family is a great way to establish boundaries with your family.
Challenge: Invite your kids to join you in a challenge. Consider adjusting the how to unplug challenge to work for your family.
HOW TO UNPLUG AND REGULATE TECHNOLOGY USE
It starts with YOU. You are the first line of defense in your own home. What you choose to do with your own personal time has the most power. Set time limits. Establish times where your phone is away and you are connecting with your kids. Unplug in the morning so that you start off the day connecting with God and with others.
After you learn to regulate your own technology use, you can establish routines and expectations that will help your family regulate their own use of technology.
I have a lot more to say, but I’d love to hear ideas from all of you. Share your questions below as well as things that have worked and not worked. If you have input please send it along!
Here are some additional posts about technology and teens.
- Check out these fantastic tips to help you learn more about technology and how to navigate it with a family in this post The Tech-Wise Family Book Review.
- How to deal with snotty teenagers… cause if you have teens, I’m sure you’ll need some quick advice on this topic.
- The Timer… check out this post on how a simple timer can change your life as a parent.