If you’ve ever wished, asked, or insisted that family members put down devices at the table, you’re not alone. I find myself telling Emily to put her phone in her backpack in the mornings before school starts, insisting that my husband finish work emails before he comes to the kitchen table, and catch myself responding to text from fellow moms about carpooling for evening activities while we’re together. When we have our devices at the table during family meals we’re being social and productive but not with each other and that’s a problem. If you’re aiming for more screen free dinners like we are, I’m here to help you take charge without guilt.
We know that family meals are important. I’m also well aware of how much technology can change a family dynamic because of the role it plays in our homes and lives. It can help bring us together through content sharing (who doesn’t love sharing a funny meme or YouTube video?) but being connected to our devices can hinder important in person conversations we need to be having with our kids.
If you’ve ever wished, asked, or insisted that family members disconnect from screens at the table, work towards finding strategies that are realistic for your family, tonight is the time to try.
“Just as there’s no one right way to have a family dinner, there’s no single right answer to how much technology, if any, should get a place at your table.”
5 Tips for Screen Free Dinners
Just as the age to get your child a cell phone differs for every family, every parent must do what feels right for their house in order to work towards device free dinners. While I make a point of modeling the kind of behavior I expect in our home, Common Sense Media provides these tips for families wanting to unplug during meals. Don’t feel like you have to do them all at once. Pick one and try it tonight as you work towards more screen free dinners:
- Commit to putting devices away for the duration of dinner
- Turn your devices to silent mode so you won’t be distracted by ringing and notifications during your meal
- Put devices somewhere where you don’t see them so you won’t be tempted to pick them up while you’re eating
- Shut off the television. So many times we think of screen free dinners meaning no phones or tablets but a Common Sense Media poll of 900 families with kids ages 2-17 found 34% of families have the TV on for all or most dinners.
- Hold yourself accountable. If you need a nudge or a way to keep yourself and your family accountable, try taking the #DeviceFreeDinner pledge.
Common Sense Media, the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology, and Evite are challenging the public to take the #DeviceFreeDinner pledge as part of their New Year’s resolutions.
While those who take the pledge will be entered in Evite’s “Device-Free Dinner” sweepstakes for a chance to win a $200 gift card for meals, Victor Cho, Chief Executive Officer of Evite, says the pledge is more about committing “to new habits, including spending time with loved ones face-to-face without distraction.”
For more information on screen free dinners and how to manage technology at your table:
- Read Why Screen free Dinners Are a Healthy Choice
- Consider creating a personalized family media plan to be more aware of the purpose of technology in your home
- Plan a#DeviceFreeDinner for friends and family members using this free Evite templates that will encourage your guests to enjoy in-person conversations
As much as we value having mobile devices so we can be available to our kids when they need us, it also means that we open ourselves up to being accessible to everyone else if we allow it and how we take back control to have a healthy media balance is different for every family.
I am a Common Sense Media Insider but no compensation is received for my participation or this post.