I couldn’t even imagine how disengaged I’d be if I were a kid growing up in today’s technology driven world, and while I’m not a parent I hear the stories from family and friends alike who just can’t seem to get their kids to put their phones down and interact with the family in a meaningful way. In fact my work BFF (best friend forever for those of you not up on the lingo) was just telling me that her whole family got sidetracked recently getting to her husbands birthday dinner because her son refused to put his phone down and get ready. What’s funny is, that kids aren’t the only ones constantly tuned into their phones, adults do it too. How many times have you gone out to dinner with friends, looked around the table and noticed everyone on their phone at one point or another. It’s gotten to where our phones are our safety blankets and we won’t even leave home without them.
So it got me to thinking, what are some ways I can help parents (and you non parental’s) get their kids to put the phone down. I started thinking about times when I wasn’t incessantly looking at my own phone. What was I doing? What was I feeling? Who were the people I was with and why did I not feel that almost uncontrollable urge to hop on Facebook when I was with them? This list I’ve compiled are tips and I hope they help everyone who is looking to unplug and interact with everyone in their lives more frequently and with more authenticity.
Some times it’s just easier to set the expectation and set rules right at the door. So let your kids know that you intend for your time spent together be time where you all are actively engaged and as such they can only hop on their phones for a set amount of time throughout the day. Come up with a time that you all feel comfortable with and trust them to stick to it. As soon as they cheat however take their phones until they are able to hop on again at the agreed upon hour. This way they don’t feel like the phone is being taken away completely and you’re not dictating but rather all coming to an agreement around how much time is fair to be off the phone.
I’m competitive by nature so this tip resonates with me. Turn being off your phone into a fun family game where whomever can stay off the longest gets a cool treat or doesn’t have to perform a chore that day.
When my phone is on silent and put away it’s kind of like outta sight outta mind. So if you’re planning to go to dinner or on vacation have the kids hand over their phones and only get them when they request them. However make the deal that when they’re done, they need to hand them back over. Somehow because the phone is out of your grasp it will make you less likely to grab for it. I find grabbing for my phone has become a bit of a nervous twitch in that I don’t really want to check it I just am not used to not having it in my hand.
Much like the tip above, when I have all alerts off I’m less likely to keep checking for it.
When I’m actively doing something I find that I’m not thinking about my phone all that much. So keep your kids actively engaged by having them interact, that might mean you make them the resident photographer for the day (on a real camera not a camera phone if possible), or help out with directions if you’re sightseeing or traveling. Give them a fun responsibility so that they feel more connected to the experience.
Some of the best trips don’t have to be far off destinations, some can be planned right outside your front door! Take St. Louis for instance. The city has become such a mecca of fun and family friendly things to do. There’s the Blues Museum, Butterfly House, St. Louis City Museum. St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Zoo, Six Flags, the arch, & St. Louis Science Center just to name a few.
So plan a trip to a local American city and show your kids that there’s so much to do when you unplug long enough to find out.
I’m sure you’ll find that once you put your phone down your family is pretty fun! So why not enter this super fun contest Entry is super easy! All you have to do is share your families funnest picture or video with#FunnestFamily on Instagram, Twitter or on the Explore St. Louis Facebook page. Contest ends 6/30/16 and there can be only one entry per person. Just visit this contest landing page for more details!
So Guys, what are some ways you unplug? Are their fun local cities you can’t wait to visit? I’d love to know in the comments below