Tips for a Family Digital Detox

Want to stay tuned in to technology, but not tuned out of your family? Here are some tips to digitally detox and find a balance.

Has your family life taken on the shape of a screen? Photographing and facebooking moments you could be living with your kids? Handing over the handheld device to keep them from getting hyperactive – when you could boot them outside for a play? Or eating your meals –but not interacting at the end of each day – because you’re all glued to some goose on an evening game show?

“Our entire world of communication has been transformed decade by decade over the last century by technology until we are now quite, or at least partly, dependent on it to function effectively in our daily routines,” notes Leading Human Behaviour Expert, Dr John Demartini.

From phone communication - talking, texting, Skype, selfies, photos - to learning and reading, to games, to computers, to cooking, to house hold electronics, to transportation vehicles, to GPS, to banking, to purchasing and consuming - we are all becoming ever more dependent upon innovative technologies for our daily existence within our family life, he adds.

However, when managed – and utilized correctly – technology can bring some blessings with it, even for the sake of keeping up to date with loved ones in this rapidly changing landscape we call life.

It allows us to say to almost anyone anywhere, thank you, I love you,” notes Dr Demartini.

Want to stay tuned in to technology, but not tuned out of your family? Here are some tips to digitally detox and find a balance.

1. Talk to your family:
Don’t just snatch the iPad from under your children’s nose, or clumsily hide the television remote. Explain the purpose of digitally detoxing - the pros and the cons - in advance and assist each family member in self-governance like for all family trainings. “Exemplification is the greatest teacher,” says Dr Demartini. So by not having your phone beside you whilst driving, keeping your own personal computer in a private space – not on the kitchen table – and ensuring dinner is a screen-free-session, you are eliminating the tech triggers for your kids and leading by example.

2. Don’t Adopt Ignorance: 
Become informed of the luring effects of virtual worlds and assure that you and your family members are aware of the two sides to technology and for that matter all things. “Wise use of technology can expand your horizons and destiny and unwise usage can consume it. It is up to you. Be smart, be prioritized, and care about your family along the way.” Check in with your local school or community on information sessions and evenings if you feel that understanding the good, bad and the ugly of the internet is too much for you.

3. Don’t Let The Tail Wag The Dog:
“When children or adults become distracted from their truly highest priorities in life and allow technology to govern them instead of them governing technology it is a sign of poor governance,” says Dr Demartini. “When they have anxiety if they misplace their phone and can’t function with back up plans, it is running them.” Therefore, it is wise to identify the highest priority uses in advance and not let impulsive activities rule. “When technology becomes addictive and compulsive people feel they can’t function or live without it. They have withdrawal symptoms if it does not work or if it is lost. It dominates their day interacting with it. They overlook other essential daily activities and people that are meaningful. They lose time, energy, sleep and money consumed by its draw.”

Start Slowly:
It’s much harder to do, but by not introducing iPads and iPhones into a childs life, you are allowing them to expand on their imagination innately. What they don’t have, they won’t miss. Take a colouring book or sticker book to a café if you want some of your own time, rather than just handing over your iPhone so they can play games and leave you in peace. On long car trips, play Eye Spy and simple games that get great laughs and create an interactive – rather than isolated – experience. This takes time. If you’ve already flooded the family with screens, start the weaning process whereby they are all turned off at a certain hour and placed in one general space. There may be tears, complaints and conjecture, but that will pass. You will get so much more out of your family and technology will always be there. Your precious family time won’t.

4. Experiment With It:
Don’t use the term ‘forever’ with your family and their reduced screen time. Sell it as an experiment. Over two weeks or a month, reduce the hours of screen time drastically. It will be tough to begin with, but if all the family are involved – and allowed to air their grievances – then they are made to feel like their voices count in the decision to detox digitally. At the end of the timeframe, everyone can have their say on the Pro’s and Con’s, and how you can best re-introduce technology slowly and beneficially for all. You may be suprised that because old habits have been broken, family members have a clearer idea of entertaining options that outweigh those requiring a screen. 

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