Thursday, January 13, 2011

Technology Timeout Needed?

I ran across an interesting list in the Wall Street Journal this week (WSJ 1-11-11) about taking a technology detox for the entire family. Here is the list that caught my eye:

10 Signs Your Devices Are Hurting Your Relationships

  1. Cannot get through a meal without e-mailing, texting or talking on the phone.
  2. Looking at more than one screen at a time (i.e., checking e-mail while watching TV).
  3. Regularly e-mail or text, other than for something urgent, while another family member is with you.
  4. Sleeping with your phone near you and checking your e-mail or texts while in bed.
  5. Logging onto your computer while in bed.
  6. Have had an argument with a loved one about your use of technology.
  7. Texting or e-mailing while driving.
  8. You no longer go outside for fun.
  9. Never turning of your phone.
  10. When spending time with your family, each person is looking at a different screen.
I read this list out loud to my family—insisting that I wasn't making any of this up—while they called out the names of our family members who were guilty of these technology crimes committed against the family. Pretty sad isn't it that's we've come to this constant reliance on screens and technology. Even worse, everyone in my family is guilty of some of the "signs" on this list. Yours truly included.

So what to do about it? The obvious solutions are limiting time on TV, computers, and texting, which we all probably attempt. One small step that I've instilled for the past couple of years is insisting on a "screen-free" day on Sundays. As the Sunday "no screen" enforcer,  you can imagine that I'm not very popular. However this Sunday rule has been modified: computers can be used but only for homework and the TV can be turned on only for sporting events. The male contingent of the house could not survive Sundays without sports. This does require extra monitoring as sometimes episodes of The Simpsons sneak in during half-time of the Vikings game. It's a small start to taking back part of Sunday as family time.

The harder part is taking a timeout yourself. I love my e-mail and checking in on Facebook as much as anyone else, but once I realize I'm taking time away from my family I can easily tear myself away from the screens. How about you? A technology detox does work and salvages that quality time with those you love. Who knows . . . your kids may even discover the great outdoors again!

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