One thing that drives my parents’ generation batty is cell phone use at the dinner table. In their day families conversed during meals. Meal time was a chance for family connection, for kids to share about the events of the day, how they were doing in school, and for everyone to stay aware of what events were coming up and what everyone was going through. Fast forward to today and many parents are very focused with what’s going on with their phones. And children are learning how to use cell phones, tablets, and computers at younger and younger ages. Many of us parents are so enthralled by our own screens that we are modeling excessive screen time usage rather than limiting it with our kids.
This may seem like a minor thing, especially when kids are looking at educational things on their screens. But, the dangerous thing about excessive screen time is that we are connecting with electronics rather than with each other. The less connecting we do the more we are at risk for depression, anxiety, addictions, and loneliness. In fact, recent research shows that the more youth are on their screens, the higher their risk for anxiety and depression.
In order to keep ourselves, our kids, and our families happy and healthy, it’s time to put our screens aside and spend some time enjoying each others’ company. Go for a walk, or play some sports together. Pop some corn and play a board game. Do a project together. And enjoy conversation over dinner without all the electronic interruptions!
If you find that you and your spouse and children are struggling with connection and relationship harmony, marriage therapy or family counseling could make all the difference. Many families have enjoyed the boost that a few sessions with an experienced therapist can give their relationships.