What is a techno-free zone today? I remember when we would have our nightly living room meetings with our teens and pre-teens before they went to bed at night. We only had a television on a cart in our bedroom closet that we would pull out to watch things together as a family. We had one desk top computer in the dining room—an open room between the kitchen and living room. And that was it. Period.
Techno-free zones were easy to come by for us.
It got harder as the kids got older. We eventually had to declare techno free talks—phones off, etc.
But it is so worth it to set aside some times to talk as a family (or one-on-one) with no technology vying for everyone’s attention.
Of course, we have all seen the memes: put all the phones in a basket until the timer goes off then everybody gets theirs back; stack them upside down in the middle of the table and the first one to check theirs pays for dinner; hide the log in until a certain time, etc.
And those would probably work, but here are a few other tips to get you thinking about how you can talk to your kids without technology:
(1) Declare it…call it by a formal name, put it on the calendar, and make it happen: Don’t forget—tonight at 9….
(2) Have food! Especially with teens! Food keeps hands busy (so they won’t miss their phones!). And it makes teens very happy…chips and queso from your favorite Mexican place; breadsticks and cheese sauce from the wholesale club; caramel corn; cookies and milk; fruit and dip….doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but the more unique to your family, the better. (We like to do cheese fondues! They take a while, and we talk and talk!)
(3) Have it some place special—around the fire pit, with a fireplace going and the lights dimmed, on the deck or front porch…some place where there are fewer things inside calling for them.
(4) Have it at a restaurant….even if it is fast food….once you are all seated, restaurants are great atmospheres for just talking. And teens love food…have I mentioned that?
(5) Make it short….if your kids (and parents!) check their phones every ten minutes, don’t expect to have three or four hour techno-free talks. It is better to have them more frequently but for less duration to ensure that kids don’t get bored. Also, if you set it from 9 to 10, you might easily find it going longer as the talking proceeds.
How have you established techno-free talks in your home? I would love to hear your ideas!