Last summer I spent three weeks without a phone.
In that time I was…challenged. It was hard not to be able to call or text my friends and family, but after awhile I saw some good in the experience as well:
- I got the opportunity to strengthen my relationships by interacting in a more personal way with my husband and kids.
- I actually noticed the things around me when we went out, paying attention to the little details that I tend to miss when I’m looking at a screen.
- I also found that the less I used technology, the less my kids did, too. If they didn’t see it, they didn’t ask for it as much.
By the end of the three weeks I was ready to get my phone back, but I was wary – not wanting to go back to old habits. I made an effort to continue living life as though my devices weren’t there, and I was really successful…for a while.
But by the new year I realized that I was checking my social media outlets a lot more, and watching videos and texting more than talking. I watched for new emails and messages every time I sat down. My kids were on their iPods as much as possible, too, and boy were they crabby when they couldn’t use them. I was disappointed. I felt like I’d failed. To help, I asked myself what I could learn from the experience, and made a decision: as a family we would carve out one technology-free hour per day.
We decided to carve out a technology-free hour.
What I found was that cutting out technology all together worked for a while, but it wasn’t realistic. As soon as it was back, so were the habits. To make a lasting change, I had to think of something that we could all stick with long term – a plan to reduce the amount of time we spend on our devices and encourage us to seek out other ways to have fun, communicate with each other, and be mentally stimulated. That’s when my husband and I decided to implement a technology-free time – a one hour break from all things technological each night after dinner. We’d set a timer, put the electronics away, and leave them out of sight until the hour was over.
Honestly, the first few nights did not go off without a hitch. We stared blankly at each other, went for a walk, read a little, and still had time left over to wish we could check our email. And it wasn’t just my boys that were crabby about it; I was too. However, instead of giving up on the idea, I pushed even harder into tech-free time. Determined, I grabbed a white board and wrote a list of things to do for the hour: reading, playing outside, playing a card game or chess. Then my kids added a few ideas: making comic books, drawing, and writing in their journals. Throughout the following weeks our list grew. Each night we’d think of another activity and write it down, and suddenly the hour was something to look forward to – something we’d all invested in.
A couple months later, we’re still going strong.
It’s been a couple of months now and we’re still going strong. I’ve come to love and cherish this time because while the technology is off, we’re spending real time together. We talk a lot, play, and connect.
Try it! If you’re tired of the technology buzz in you home, I encourage you to try giving it up for one hour a day. Work with your family to make a list of fun activities, and don’t give up. If you decide to give it a try, let me know how it goes, and/or share some ideas for the time in the comments below.
— Written by Rebbekkah Messenger for Lifetree.com, which offers articles, videos, and podcasts on parenting, marriage, and daily faith.