Eileen Fisher: GigaMom


What Happens When a Techy Family Unplugs

It's Time To Disconnect So We Can Reconnect

taking a tech timeout

The other day I counted the number of tech devices my family uses. It wasn’t long before I ran out of fingers and had to start using my toes.

iPads, iPhones, e-readers, video games, home computers, laptops, 6 phones for a family of 4 people. Seriously. It was looking like our love of tech was taking over. It was time for a tech timeout.

I had heard about the “Tech Timeout” program recently launched by insurance provider Foresters, and I was very interested in finding out more info. After visiting their techtimeout.com website, I started to watch some of the videos featuring people like me (and you), people who needed to take a tech timeout—like this one...

Taking a Tech Timeout is hard because for many of us, it’s an addiction to have that tech device in your hand at all times (Have you read my blog bio?). Yes, I’m looking at you, people who “Throne tweet” and “Sleep-Pin.” You know who you are. I’m one of them.

So what exactly is a “Tech Timeout?"

Simply put, it’s a challenge started by Foresters to encourage families to take a daily break from technology. For one week, the families pledge to disconnect from anything electronic for at least one hour.

Sounds simple, right? It is, but the truth is that families nowadays don’t do it enough. Mine included. Sometimes you look around and everyone has an electronic tech device in his or her hands, heads down, zoned out.

The timing of my family's decision to take a Tech Timeout was particularly interesting. Not only was it the last week of the school year, but it was also my birthday. That being said, there were a few gifts of the technology variety given in our house that week, so for us it was especially hard to take a tech break. In addition, both my husband and I work from home—when it's often hard to shut the office door and put the "closed" sign up—so this made for a very interesting challenge indeed.

But it had to be done. Like many other people my age, I find myself reminiscing about what life was like before technology "connected" everyone. When I was a kid, we made phone calls and went out with our friends. When we wanted to play a game, we went to the park. Socializing was done at the beach or the movie theatres, where we actually sat with our friends and spoke words to people. I want our kids to know that feeling too and not get so completely enveloped into technology that they forget how to have an in-person conversation with people.

I have to admit, my kids surprised me. Despite how much they love their technology, they didn't complain about going without it and taking a break. We compared it to Earth Hour, which we do every year and every year say the same thing: "We should do this more often."

Tell the truth — do the people in this video remind you of anyone?

It’s time to change things up a bit and take the pledge. My family decided to take the Tech Timeout pledge because it seemed that the more we got “connected,” the more we felt disconnected. Ironic, isn’t it?

Taking the pledge is easy. Just visit the Tech Timeout website here and download this pledge form:

Get everyone to sign the form and put it up in the house where everyone can see it. It’s a visual reminder of a pledge your family is making to each other. A pledge to disconnect so you can reconnect.

And before long, you’ll remember how awesome it is to:

Paint with your kids...

Or take the dog for a walk...

Or play outside with the world's largest basketball...

Or appreciate how beautiful nature truly is...

Or build anything out of LEGO...

Or pick up that instrument that’s been hiding in the basement for too long.

I’ve also fallen in love again with curling up on the sofa with a good book (the paper kind, with pages). Board games have been rediscovered by the kids and I *may* have claimed the trampoline as my own.

Need more tech-free ideas? Take a look at this:

Techy that I am, I have to say that this tech-free time is quite fabulous.

Do you have a technology addiction? I do. It’s time to push the excuses aside and take a Tech Timeout. Take the pledge with me and let me know what your family is doing during your “Tech Timeout” in the comments below.

Still need more inspiration to take the Tech Timeout Pledge?

  Lisa Thornbury has 11 Fun Offline Activities To Entertain Your Family.

  Andrea Nair, psychotherapist and parenting educator, shares her five tips for families to use technology in a safe and responsible way.

  Jennifer Kolari, family therapist, shares four simple strategies to help your family connect during your tech timeout.

To take the Tech Timeout pledge, and for more tips on building stronger bonds within your family, visit www.TechTimeout.com and www.facebook.com/TechTimeout.

And to help you reconnect with your family, we're giving away a $50 Family Game Set to ten lucky YMC Members, courtesy of Foresters. Enter today!