If you dropped by my house it wouldn’t be unusual to see a few of us browsing our individual smartphones or laptops. My husband and I may be working or checking news (or husband checking sports results) and kids will do homework or staying connected with friends. The pressure to stay connected is intense and can interfere with family life. Research has shown that we can only focus on one thing at a time – we are not meant to multi-task even though technology is forcing us to. This split-focus or ‘zombie behavior’ (as I call it) can increase a feeling of disconnection and isolation.
Increasingly, I felt disconnected from my family and decided to instigate some changes. Here is what works at the moment:
- Technology free dinner time (took a bit of time to get used to but everybody likes it now and respects it)
- I chose to see technology as a way of staying connected and use it to maintain contact outside of home
We decided on a simple rule: no technology during dinner – phones, laptops, ipads must be completely out of earshot.
Secondly, I decided to use technology even more to maintain contact with my family when outside of home. Just little emojis or messages – not ‘checking up on’ but ‘checking in’ with family members or sharing what we were up to. The result is that we all feel more connected online and offline, especially with our oldest away at university.
If you are feeling disconnected with your family, partner or kids – what are some ways you can connect more offline and online?