An Exercise in Balance

Last week my siblings, their spouses, and all their kids came out to our home for a fun family visit. Among these 20 family members who stayed in our home, 8 of the children had iPhones. My sister, Maria, and I had a great idea that we implemented at the beginning of their visit here. We thought we would encourage good old-fashioned social fun and playing…some balance…so we collected all the kid’s phones and told them that we were going to have a phone-free weekend. They were to fully enjoy their cousins without looking down at their phones the whole time.

We recalled, as children, hanging out with our cousins. We played outside, invented games, laughed together, and truly enjoyed each other. We helped our grandparents, aunts, and uncles cook and clean. The older cousins played with and took care of the younger cousins. It felt cohesive and very loving…a big, happy, Italian family we come from. We wanted to recreate that for our children.

This was an experiment,
a lesson in psychology and human behavior if you will.
Boy, we sure learned a lot!

1) These are wonderful kids, and all but two of them put their phone in the box and had a good attitude.
Was this their preference, NO, but when the adults spoke our request was respectful.

2) All the kids interacted with no scrapping. They played outside, were active and creative.

3) They made a lot of really great memories, really bonded, and all had a great time.

4) They all made eye contact with each other and with the aunts and uncles.
This was so refreshing…it’s so frustrating to speak to someone who has their head buried in a phone.

5) The two with the bad attitude came around and participated and had fun.

My sister and I talked about this whole notion and our observations.
This experiment really confirmed something that we already had a hunch about:

Kids think having a phone is a Right and not a Privilege!
These phones breed a sense of entitlement!
Kids are addicted to social media!

We could see that they all were missing their habit. They wanted to text, take pictures, and make videos. They rarely even use it to talk on, unless a parent calls them. This generation is so used to instant gratification. They get information so fast and the technology is so quick, that real life almost seems too slow and boring to them. We, as parents, need to be aware of this. We need to make sure our children grow up knowing how to interact socially and communicate verbally. We need to monitor how much time they spend looking down at their phones, and be aware of what content they are viewing. We need to guide them so they are not out of balance.

We have set some rules in our home, which seem to help with the amount of time spent on these devices:

  • NO computers or phones in their bedrooms. All electronics are in the common area of our home. This eliminates isolation and we can monitor how much time is being devoted (or wasted) to these toys. This also encourages participation with our family and with life.
  • Phones, iPads, etc. use is earned. If there is a bad attitude or misbehavior, it is not rewarded. Those devices are shelved until things turn around.
  • No passwords are set or used. If they aren’t proud of what they are writing and sharing with others, then they are not mature enough to have the device. Full disclosure.
  • A phone is a privilege. If grades, chores, and other responsibilities are slipping…then they are not using their time wisely, and the phone is a huge distraction to that balance.

Having a phone is a great resource and a wonderful tool for entertainment and looking up information. It is fascinating and has opened up a whole new world for this generation. Hopefully, with some boundaries and balance in place, our kids will still grow up well-rounded like we did!  🙂

Take Action: This week and moving forward, let’s set some healthy boundaries with our children’s use of technology. Let’s make sure their time is balanced and healthy. Let’s monitor what they are absorbing and make sure they are succeeding in all areas of life. Let’s also take note of how much time we, as parents, are spending looking down at our phones!

Because Together is Better,

Comments

  1. Diane Morrison says:

    LOVE!

  2. Amen Sister! Amen! Love it and will use it!

  3. This is awesome!!!!!! I am definitely working on the tv and its great!
    Love getting back to the basics
    thanks D!
    Xoxo

  4. We don’t have a cell phone so I don’t have to worry about my kids or husband being distracted by a cell phone when we are spending time together.

  5. great picture!

  6. Your rules are AWESOME! We did something similar and it saved us and our kids a lot of heartache later.

  7. Heather Petersen says:

    Balance is the key! I love your guidelines. We have some of the same for our girls.

  8. I’m glad, and not surprised, that the kids had a great weekend sens cell phones. And I’m proud of you for suggesting it and enjoying it, too! I hope the parents turned in their cells, too!

  9. I agree, balance is the master key to maintain healthy life.

  10. Well, that’s a great idea.
    I have a sister who never pay attention to another situation in our house. She always be busy on her laptop, her cellphone. My mom has been desperate to talk to her, lol.
    No one can order her to do any household-thing. Well, she will say “OK” but that job never be done.

  11. veronica says:

    that is a great idea! I should try that some time!

  12. What a great idea! I heard about a family who does this at a family dinner every Sunday and how close their family is because of it.

    • I agree Meli, we also have a no-phones-at-the-dinner-table rule. We are there to talk and connect with each other! Thank you for your comment! -Deanna

  13. I love your strategy for keeping devices and social media a right now a privilege. This generation’s minds are wired diffferently than past generations because they grew up using the internet and devices. It will make them better suited for the future workforce, but they will still have to learn accountability and social skills.

  14. This is a fantastic idea. Kids are so attached to electronics and gadgets that they forget to be a kid and go play. It has been a while since my own teens have gone outside to play.

    • Thank you for your comment Christy. We have to remember we are the parents and make sure we are all in balance sometimes! -Deanna

  15. OH Parenting I can relate to. Love the Iphone free weekend. ( and bonus eye contact and fun.
    My cabin at the lake has no TV service .. which encouraged games nightly.. was good for family fun.
    now with phones and internet everywhere.. this is the way to go !!

    • Sometimes we need to slow down and get back to basics…real relationships and communication! Thank you for your insight Terry! -Deanna

  16. Balance is key in life. Thanks for such a great read today. Regards from the #VAforLife

  17. That’s a great thing you did! Sometimes we do that with the kids, but they seem to gravitate towards those devices..

  18. My 10-year old grandson has been asking for a phone but does not have one yet. I think it’s such a big part of life now that kids see phones as a regular part of growing up. We only had home phones connected to the wall when I was a kid. Being connected meant going outside and playing with our friends.

  19. I LOVE your rules. Kids need boundaries (even if they complain), it makes them feel secure.
    Great parenting!

    Also… cool photo of the elephant…it’s true…Balance IS the secret to a happy life. ♥

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