Put down your phone and connect
Right before Christmas I deleted Facebook off my phone. Big move because I LOVE being connected all the time. I mean isn’t normal to check Facebook as soon as your alarm goes off? Or to check Facebook 9 or 10 times a day. Though in my defense, I do check Facebook a lot for work, but still, I probably check it way too often and I was worried that I was becoming just like this dad.
Over the years I toyed with the idea of removing social media off my phone, but I haven’t been able to take the plunge until last December. Partially it was for a practical reason. I needed more space on my phone so I could document my family’s Disneyland trip. The more important reason. I didn’t want to be distracted. With siblings strewn all across the world, family vacations these days are a precious commodity and I didn’t want to spend the time we had together glued to my phone.
It was great. Instead of being distracted by what cool things our friends were doing that we weren’t, we spent the time playing lots of charades and entertaining our neighbors while waiting in long lines. Instead of reading stupid memes that were only marginally funny, we laughed over the funny things people said, did, and saw. Instead of finding out more about people we kind of know, we spent time getting to know our family better. And we took lots of pictures—which did not end up on Facebook, but here’s one for you.
The crazy thing was that I didn’t miss having Facebook on my phone. I liked going somewhere and not automatically pulling out my phone. I liked the freedom I felt to go hours without checking updates and looking for notifications that weren’t there. The longer Facebook has been off my phone, the more I’ve noticed that my behavior has changed. Now when I have a spare 10 or 20 minutes I actually use that time for something productive. I talk with friends. I put away my laundry. I read a book. I go for short walks. I try to be more present in the moments I’m given.
Just being with our family does not mean that we’re connecting. Connecting with our family takes time—and it takes effort. The dad in this video was present but he wasn’t present.
Just this week Chick-Fil-A announced that it will give away free ice cream to those who can eat a meal without picking up their phones because they were seeing too many people come in together and never talking. Just think at how many problems could be avoided just by talking to people
It doesn’t mean that our effort to connect shouldn’t be fun. It should be. We hope lots and lots of fun!
Which is why we’ve created the #ConnectTheFam challenge in conjunction with National Unplug Day on March 4-5. For an hour each day for one week, we’re asking families to unplug their devices and do something fun together.
Now for many of us, it’s been a while since you’ve really connected with your family and you’re not sure if you even know how anymore. Don’t worry. Even the best of families struggle with this. It’s why we’re providing families two daily unplugged activities that they can do together each day. All you have to do is chose an activity, download the files and have fun.
The first couple of days it may seem like a challenge. You kids may complain. Your spouse most certainly will. Stick with it. By the end your kids will enjoy the time you spend together as a family. We wouldn’t be surprised if many of you like the results so much that you make unplugging a permanent part of your family routine.
While your kids are in the middle of a temper tantrum, 18 or 20 years may seem like a really long time. Any parent who no longer has kids at home will tell you that isn’t the case. Those years go by way too fast and you can’t get them back. Don’t want to waste them by being stuck to your devices.
We’d love to see how your family does the challenges. Use the hashtag #ConnectTheFam.