Parents of teens realize that technology is a part of family life. We enjoy the ability to stay more connected than ever throughout our day by text message and email but at the same time we long for more than an electronic messages from our children and I’m sure they deep down want to have time with us too. Many families are instituting a Tech-Free Night to encourage uninterrupted time together on a regular basis.
Rules vary from house to house but for our family tech-free means turning off all electronic devices and using that time to enjoy each other’s company. Surprisingly, it is not the teens that have the hardest time disconnecting in our house. We have tried various ideas but our tech-free time is either for the dinner hour or for an entire evening. Ask your teen how they can fit in a tech-free period of time and then listen to their opinion about what day fits their active life. Post the agreed upon date on your calendar and on your refrigerator. (You can download the sign above HERE.)
Now that you have everyone’s attention, what are you going to do? Keep in mind your child’s interests as you plan your tech-free time.
- Good food: Everyone loves a good meal. You can even invite some of your teen’s friends over to join you for a meal and get to know them at the same time. Make sure guests know ahead of time the rules of your tech-free time.
- Conversation: Try to ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Check out Table Topics and KubIt2Me if you would like some pre-made questions to have on hand for everyone in the family. Don’t make this a time of lecturing or arguing. Make a point to really listen to your teen during this time, finding common ground and sharing something positive.
- Exercise together: Find an activity that you all enjoy. Try a variety of activities until you find one that you all look forward to doing as a family. You can keep it non-competitive or just for fun try kids against the parents!
- Create family traditions: Friday Night Pizza Night, Saturday Afternoon Basketball Game, Sunday Special Dinner, Monday Board Game Night. Ask your teens for their input and then make it a weekly ritual. By combining tech-free time with new traditions you can build a stronger family.
- Share a hobby: Here is where you can learn alongside your teen to learn a new skill or share an old one. Star-gazing, gardening, car shows, photography, crafts…try some different ideas out and see what sticks.
It can be a challenge to turn off all the electronics but even a few minutes a week will give the opportunity to build family ties and make some great memories.