Nowadays we live in the age of technology, where the continuous advance of the use of cell phones, tablets, computers, entertainment apps (not only for children but also for adults) end up taking our undivided ATTENTION and our TIME. With this progress, everything seems to be going faster, but we enjoy less. Everything becomes easier, but we have less time. By the time we come back to reality, our families are UNATTENDED TO AND LACK QUALITY TIME, which leads to weakness. When a family is weakened, it is an easy prey for fatigue, moodiness, tension in the relationships with each other, impatience, anger, disinterest, disconnection, etc.
Someone once said: “Technological advancement allows us to be close to those who are far away, but it distances us from those who are close.” What a great truth, right? Although we can say that the use of these devices facilitates communication with those around us, the excess or lack of management can be very dangerous for the life of a family.
Let’s think about this:
How much time at home do we spend with a cell phone in hand?
How much time do our children spend in front of a screen being entertained by some video game?
How many of our children and adolescents are used to staying up late at night using the tablet or cell phone?
How many of us have made the television or cell phone another member of the family at lunch or dinner time?
Suddenly these devices became full-time “babysitters” for our children so that mom and dad can go to work, or elsewhere, so that we (the parents) can have that moment in which we are not “bothered” so often. We talk to each other at home, but actually, our eyes are on the cell phone that we are holding in our hand; while our children are talking to us, we are catching up with a social network, or perhaps texting someone at the same time.
Eye contact in conversation is dwindling between spouses and between parents and children; there is little dialogue between one and the other at home because we believe that there is no topic of common interest to talk about. Playtime with friends revolves around “do we play playstation?” or, “we are bored and don’t know what to do.” Technology has suctioned creativity out of children’s lives like a vacuum cleaner, leading them to believe that the only way not to be bored when they are together is playing games on the computer.
But, not everything is lost!
We can still give our family the ATTENTION and TIME it deserves!
We can strengthen the family bond within the home by establishing healthy limits on screens.
Work / activities. Nowadays, mom and dad work a lot outside the home, and in many cases their work depends on the continuous use of the cell phone as a work tool. Although the situation is inevitable, we can always compensate for it by setting schedules to our commitment in terms of answering messages, posting on social networks, making calls, listening to audios, etc. Has it happened to you that you are in the middle of dinner and you get a text that you feel you must answer? Or right in the middle of some activity with your son, they text you asking something related to work? We do not have to feel guilty for organizing and limiting the use of our cell phone, computer or tablet. Finding balance between technology and family is a challenge, but if we are really determined, we can reach a perfectly healthy balance.
Family time :
Family activities are a great booster for relationships. Take advantage of them!
Plan outings of interest where interacting with each other is the center of the moment: such as going to the park or playground, camping, going fishing, a specific day of the week where you simply enjoy watching a movie together, inviting your children to go for some ice cream, or have a coffee. Sometimes I let my kids invite their friends over, etc. Every family must find that point of bonding through some nice special activity. We must be intentional in organizing these “gatherings together”. Remember that the idea of this quality time is the detachment of “technology” to establish a strong and close relationship with each other. Being physically present does not always mean there’s presence of connection; we can all be together in the same space, but absent from each other in our hearts.
Having family moments means turning our full attention and focus to interacting with each other. Turning off the cell phone, or deciding not to reply to any messages, makes this special time the most important of the day. Looks, attention, conversations, laughter, questions, enjoyment, are essential ingredients for the health of a strong family that is being looked after.
Say NO to the intruders at the table! Lunch time and dinner are great pillars of a family reunion. These are opportunities for socializing with each other and the precise moment to not have the cell phone within reach nor the television on. The practice of family communication is disappearing, so it is time to become aware and take hold of “that reunion” where we can be together again and talk. There is no better time of day for a family than to sit around a table encouraging the practice of good socialization. It is necessary to turn off the cell phone and the television to talk with each other about our interests, how our day was, what happened at school or work, etc. Everyone at home will feel respected and valued when our attention is one hundred percent focused on the other, and when we all make that good habit, the norm, that identifies us as a family.
We can still make changes, value and prioritize our own! My greatest wish is that each family can reflect and say: “Even Though there are many social networks, MY FAMILY IS MY FAVORITE SOCIAL NETWORK!”
By Jimena Angulo.
(Translation by Carlos de Jesus Cruz Martinez, Edited by Ema Vega)