Disconnect from Digital Devices at Mealtime

Technology is a good servant but a bad master.-Gretchen Rubin

Winston Churchill said he did not listen to what people said, but instead watched what they did. Our behavior is everything and the message we send others when in their presence is foundational to the relationship and it’s solidity. 

Many people report feeling disconnected. When we start talking, it doesn’t take long to see the problem. They can directly connect this to their phone usage and their inability to curtail phone time. My clients complain that they text instead of talk and have very little in-person human interaction anymore. They may send hug emojis, but they really miss giving hugs. It is a lovely thing to meet a person and connect with them on a soul level. We do this best in person. 

Do you remember the days when you actually talked to your friends or mates? Connecting builds close bonds. Those days are diminishing; now we engage large parts of our relationships online. We are wired for in-person connection and attachment, so when we don’t receive this we struggle. 

One of my favorite theorists Virginia Satir said, “We need four hugs each day for survival, eight hugs for maintenance, and twelve hugs for growth.” 

What’s your hug level? How are you doing with this in your life? The devices we are most attached to don’t give us these essentials. They may always be there, but they are cold and impersonal. 

Dinner time is one of the most important times of day for families. The interaction and connection that occurs is invaluable. It is the cornerstone of turning children into healthy adults. Rarely do you see families at a meal without parents and kids immersed in their devices. They miss wonderful opportunities to make lasting memories. 

Parents need to limit device time for themselves and for their kids. No electronics at dinner, and all devices should be given to parents at night before bed. Parents need to ask this question: Are these devices connecting or disconnecting our family? 

If social media is so social, why do our children isolate for hours to engage? The research is out, it is not healthy and it is associated with negative mental and physiological outcomes for our kids and for all of us. It is as unhealthy as smoking. If you would not allow your kids to go up to their rooms and light up, then why would you allow them to isolate for hours in their rooms scrolling on their digital devices? Responsible device usage is an important part of parenting now. 

Yes, parenting is harder due to digital devices, but when we put a few responsible boundaries in place, we teach our kids and model for them lifelong healthy device usage. Kids need to realize there was life before digital devices came along, and it is not acceptable to be tethered to our devices.