Building Strong Family Bonds: How to Swap Screen Time for Family Time
Sometimes it feels like technology allows families to be more connected than ever. We can share online calendars, keep tabs on our kids’ Instagram accounts, and exchange texts from across the globe in a manner of seconds. Yes, technology has lots of benefits, but still we can’t help but wonder - even though we’re “connected” to our families 24/7, is our constant use of technology stopping us from really connecting?
Building Strong Family Bonds in the Digital Age
Before we dive into this, we should say - we appreciate technology as much as the next person (afterall, Vertellis began as an online company!). So although we agree that technology offers a lot of value, we also see how society’s misuse and overuse of technology is affecting people’s happiness and well-being. We also see how this technological overload - and some might say addiction - is affecting the family unit.
The more time parents and kids devote to their devices, the less quality time they’re spending with each other. This decline in screen-free interaction is leading to more dissatisfaction amongst partners, miscommunication between parents and children, and overall, less connection as a family. Any of this sound familiar?
Knowing that spending quality time together is important for building strong family bonds, how can we start swapping screen time for family time? Keep reading for four simple ways to encourage family members to put down their devices and start connecting with each other face-to-face.
4 Simple Ways to Swap Screen Time for Family Time
Lead By Example
We can harp about our family’s screen time all we want, but the truth is, if we want our family members to use technology intentionally and responsibly, we have to set an example. Does this mean you need to ditch all your devices and go completely off the grid? Of course not! But when you’re with your kids or your partner, make a conscious choice to be fully present with them. By showing your family that you value spending time together sans electronic, they’re more likely to feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
What’s more, as we all know, kids model our behaviors. So while it may seem innocent to respond to a text while having lunch with your son or do a quick check of social media at your daughter’s soccer game...kids notice. Consequently, if we want our children to be responsible and respectful with technology, we as parents need to be mindful of how and when we’re engaging with our own devices.
Screen-Free Meal Time
The dinner table used to be a place where families got together and discussed what happened during their day. Nowadays, however, “family dinner” has been replaced by “the time when we all sit down to eat but everyone stares at their phones.”
By serving our meals with a side of smartphone, we’re losing that daily opportunity to communicate and connect with our families as a whole. After all, how many other times during the day is everyone sitting in the same place? By implementing a strict no-screens-at-the-table policy, you’re recreating a space for genuine and honest conversation to occur.
Bonus: having screen-free meal time not only gives family members an opportunity for connection, but may also help prevent childhood obesity and lowers the chances of kids participating in risky behavior. Win, win, win. 🙌
Engage in Meaningful Conversation
When we’re not staring at screens, we can give family members genuine attention and get to know what’s happening in their lives. Even just asking simple questions such as, “What was your favorite thing that happened today?” or “What’s something you’re grateful for?” can get conversation flowing.
If you want to cultivate more connection and take the conversation even deeper, check out the Vertellis Family Edition question card game. This game is incredibly effective at opening up the lines of communication amongst parents and children while also helping family members learn more about one another. Some of my favorite questions from the game include:
- If you had the attention of the whole world for fifteen seconds, what would you say?
- What have you always wanted to ask your parent(s)?
- What characteristic(s) from someone in your family would you like to have?
Families have told us they play The Family Edition after dinner, on long car trips, during the holidays, and on vacation. It’s a fun, easy way to get all family members engaged and talking!
P.S. Want to start more meaningful conversations with everyone in your life? Check out Bart’s article: 5 questions to start endless conversation during the holidays. You can use these questions any time of year to ignite conversation with friends, family, colleagues, or anyone you want to cultivate a deeper connection with!
To ensure screen-free family time happens regularly, get it on the schedule! By making space for family time on your calendar, you’re prioritizing it and showing that this activity is important to you. Then, make it part of your routine! Whether it’s once a week or once a month, having regularly scheduled family time ensures that family members get to connect with each other without electronics on a regular basis.
To get kids excited about screen-free family time, plan fun activities that everyone enjoys. Spend time in nature, volunteer in your community, head to a concert - the options are endless!
Want to go all in? Get Screen-Free Week on your calendar and see what happens when your family ditches their devices for an entire seven days!
Share Your Screen-Free Secrets
What are your family’s favorite screen-free activities? Drop a comment below and let our community know!
Tessa is a US-based Vertellis team member with a penchant for writing. When she’s not typing away on her laptop, you’ll usually find her studying Shakespeare or spending time in nature. Three things she cannot live without: good food, good coffee, and good conversation.