Ever feel like you just can't unplug? Or that everyone around you seems to be lost in a zombieland of digital dependence?
It's not surprising, considering nearly half of American adults now own smart phones and that digital tablet ownership has doubled over the past year - thank you iPad!
But what impact is all this so-called "smart" technology having on our families, our relationships? Media experts tell people to unplug, to set a better example for their kids, or to just take a moment to enjoy the world around them.
But … how?
To unplug and reconnect with each other, our family is always re-evaluating how we deal with personal media, but we have some hard and fast rules when it comes to being plugged in.
1. No toys at the table
This is the almost sacred rule. You are not 24's Jack Bauer. Even the busiest working parent can take 15 minutes from the day for an electronics-free dinner. I always hear: "But my boss is expecting my email!" Your boss has no idea when you even GOT the first one you so desperately need to reply to. It can likely wait 5 more minutes. Of course, there are days when you just have to get stuff done, so excuse yourself from the table to file that TPS Report.
Related: 20 unexpected ways to relieve stress
2. No toys at the park
The playground is for exercise and personal freedom, not Angry Birds. Put that away. Both of you.
3. Toys are not parents
If you're out to a nice dinner or a simple taco lunch with the kids or a group of kids - I see this scenario the most - don't hand over a phone or iPad so you can eat or chat with a friend in peace. As difficult as it is to actually engage these little monkeys for 15 minutes, go for it.
4. Un-app thyself
I took Facebook mobile apps off my phone completely, having been guilty of checking mindless status updates while doing everything from waiting in the checkout line to waiting in the doctor's office. Do you need to be so tapped in to the "OMG. I just had the best lunch ever! Ugh, burrito baby!" crowd? It can probably wait.
Related: 7 hilarious ways to beat the morning rush ... dad-style
5. Create email time
I wake up super early to get some work done and try to squeeze in most of my correspondence during this time. Then I can have the rest of the day to hang with my daughter. In the evening, after she's in bed, I can turn the computer on and get back to work. This scheduling of electronics works for me, but I bet a lot of people could plan a time during the day when they are electronics-free - whether to hang with the kids or just read a book.
6. Play video games!
This may seem counter-intuitive, considering this whole thing is about unplugging, but there are a few stupid video games my daughter and I enjoy, and playing them together can be a real treat for both of us. The key word is: together. On the weekends, she and I play Where's My Water or Angry Birds together for a few minutes, and then the phone goes away. I don't want her connected all the time, but it seems impossible to turn her into a Luddite.
Related: 12 unexpected ways life changes after kids
7. Leave it at home
If you're going to be running short errands around the neighborhood and feel like the phone offers too big of a suck away from the family, just leave it at home. Put it on a shelf. I do this now when shopping or going to the park. Whatever messages are waiting for me when I get back can continue to do just that: wait.
- By Mike Adamick
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