The question I hear over and over again is: How do I get my family off their phones?
Let me begin this one with a couple of disclaimers: First, I do not have this fully figured out in my household. And candidly, I think we are all involved in a social experiment with these devices, and none of us actually know how it ends yet.
Second, this is not an anti phone rant. I’m certainly not getting rid of my phone. Phones have so many useful benefits, not the least of which is that everyone can curate their experiences to be happy at the same time. They also have really helpful applications. I can’t get very far into my day without wanting to look something up, verify that information, use a map, or send a text to someone.
So I’m going to start by asking the question we get often from our kids when we tell them to put away the devices – “Why?” And they have a point – as in, what is the problem and how do we define it? The way I see it, the problem is simply the fact that everyone is on their own device and lost in their own world rather than being connected with each other. We are constantly competing with an effortless, at-your-service, perfectly curated best friend in the form of a phone or tablet. And they aren’t going away.
That’s the itch. Collectively, we need to figure out how to make peace with these devices without losing our human connection in the process.
With this in mind, I have three ideas we’re trying in my household:
- Create no-fly zones. Set boundaries on the times and places that the device is just not allowed. It could be at the dinner table or during a shared meal. It could be before or after a certain time in the week day. Find the times and occasions that work best based on your family’s routine.
- Ignite competitive spirits. Sometimes turning a new rule into a game can help with buy-in. So to use evening dinner as an example – maybe you put a big glass jar or bowl in the middle of the table and have everybody put their phones in it. Then, the first person to reach for their phone has to do the dishes. Or if you’re caught with your phone during a no-fly zone, you have to do the next load of laundry.
- Foster shared experiences. Be intentional about having a shared experience, and help your family to prepare for it in advance. For example you might say something like “Hey, tonight when we watch this movie, we’re going to all put our phones away and have the experience together and talk about it.” Or, “On the car ride to grandma’s today, we are not going to have our phones out and we’re going to have some time together as a family.”
I hope these ideas work in your house. Shoot me an email or DM and let me know! And this is just one of the hundreds of things we talk about in my coaching community to help make day-to-day life just a little better. Click here to chat with us and learn more about what it means to be in coaching.