Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, texting — we have instant access to human contact 24 hours a day. We log in and tune out. We overshare with strangers and don't share enough with our families. For these reasons, I have a love/hate relationship with technology.
Canadians spend more time online than any other country and that can mean that every member of a family is online on their own device, even in the same room. I just emailed this to my husband sitting across from me on the couch and he totally agrees.
Many parents have expressed concern about technology’s intrusion into their family time. I feel it. Do you?
I grew up pre-internet, so I learned how to maintain a conversation and I can easily make human contact without being digitally connected. But can I say the same about my children? Can you?
Even if we limit our kids’ screen time, their learning and social skills are still impacted by OUR screen time. Have you ever shushed your child so you could finish composing an email on your phone? Have you looked away during your child’s soccer game to post a tweet? Have you texted from the dinner table in the middle of your son telling you about his French test? Not proud of it, but I've done all of these and more.
I make my living online, so I’m not about to give it up. But, I’m aware of the need to balance technology with dedicated "unplugged" family time. Like many parents, I’m struggling with this and need to make this a priority — not just tweeting and blogging about it, but actually doing it on a daily basis.
Hiding in the bathroom to check my email is not the same as tuning into my family. So, we’ve taken a Tech Timeout Pledge.
Notice how my name appears twice? This is because I uploaded the form twice. Ironic that somebody who loves technology so much could be so hopelessly tech-challenged.
Tech Timeout is a community initiative started by Foresters, a life insurance provider with a purpose which is to “enhance the well-being of families and communities.” The Tech Timeout campaign brings awareness to the growing social concern about the impact that digital devices and technology is having on family togetherness. Watch this video for some inspiration.
To participate, you can download a pledge form from Techtimeout.com. By signing the form, individuals make a pledge to one another to refrain from using digital devices for one hour a day for a week. I couldn’t print ours since my printer has gone offline and I don’t know how to fix it. See? Tech…challenged.
The Tech Timeout challenges participants to turn off digital devices (including TVs, smartphones, game consoles and computers) and to connect with each in a more personal way. Nobody keeps track of this but you. And there’s no prize at the end except for the quality time spent with your family. That’s priceless and vital for the health of our families, in my opinion.
You can use this time to enjoy tech-free activities like reading, board games, volunteering, outdoor play or whatever you enjoy doing.
Some of the offline activities my family enjoyed during our Tech Timeout include:
Chatting, collecting rocks and leaves, looking for bugs and enjoying nature
Head Bandz is something all four of us can play together.
We invent games and then play them together as a family...this one is called, "Marbel Mayhem."
The kids do the show, the parents watch and heckle from the audience.
My kids could do this ALL day. Sometimes they do and I film them (Yes, this involves technology, but it's in the name of art). Then we watch the movies together later with popcorn. The movie below is about the Zombies in our yard. It's still in the editing stage, but when it's ready I'll be sure to share. It's "frightening".... in a hilarious sort of way.
Lawn darts (yes, the "safe" ones), croquet, basketball in the drive-way (girls against the boys), Four Square, Hopscotch and running through obstacle courses the kids set up.
My son and I are both learning guitar. He can play all kinds of pop songs. I can play Mary Had a Little Lamb.
The kiddie pool, water squirters, water balloons, the hose. The wetter the better.
Full disclosure… I sent a text while the kids were hiding. I am weak and I am ashamed.
Exactly like the Nature Walk but with binoculars and our necks craned upwards. Pun intended.
I'm sure our neighbours get a laugh watching the Thornburys race like mad (winded) people across the park, but it's something we do. THIS is an example of how ridiculous it looks. Let me preface this by saying, yes, I did push my son down onto the grass in order to have a better chance of winning. But to be fair, I pushed my daughter down too. :)
I encourage you to take the Tech Timeout pledge and enjoy some tech-free time with your kids!
Still need more inspiration to take the Tech Timeout Pledge?
YMC Gigamom, Eileen Fisher, who is addicted to tech, talks about what happened to her family when they unplugged.
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.
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!
This is proudly sponsored by our friends at Foresters.
Foresters™ is the trade name and a trademark of The Independent Order of Foresters, 789 Don Mills Road, Toronto, Canada M3C 1T9; its subsidiaries are licensed to use this mark. Tech Timeout and the Tech Timeout logo are trademarks of The Independent Order of Foresters.