How to Manage Device Use at Family Gatherings – ETB #103

I’ve been doing a lot of research about technology and how it affects our families and our kids. Since the beginning of the pandemic, online usage, especially social media, has risen 50% or more. But, I’ve said many times, technology is not the problem! It’s the usage of technology that is the problem. It’s how we are using it and how often we are using it. How can you manage device use when your family is gathered together so that relationships are kept top priority?

I was recently on vacation with my husband, my kids, and their spouses. Of the ten of us, there were plenty of times when the majority of the family would be found on a device. It might have been for work or it might have been for social media or it might have been someone just wasting time while waiting for everyone else. Seeing this, I wondered how this device usage could be tamed. How can we manage device use at family gatherings?

Once your kids are adults, the solution is not as easy as taking their devices away! The goal is to help your kids learn when to turn off the devices and how to be unplugged.

Set the Expectations Before a Family Gathering

If you’re planning a family getaway or gathering, discuss the plans and expectations beforehand. Talk about the loose agenda for your time together. A full itinerary would add more stress and inhibits organic conversations, but you can have a loose plan to set the overall tone for your time. Discuss the games you want to play or activities you want to do together and how the event or days will flow.

How to Talk to a Disengaged Family Member

If in the midst of the family activity of hang out time, you find that one of the kids is disengaged, ask if everything is ok. Maybe there’s a problem with a friend or a work emergency? Don’t assume that they’ve stepped away because they don’t want to be with the family. Give the benefit of the doubt. Manage your expectations and give grace. Don’t jump to being offended!

When you see that there’s a family member who is constantly on their phone, what can you do? First, stop and pray. Next, observe. Wait for an opportunity to ask if everything is ok. When the time is right, privately ask questions to get to the heart of the matter. Gently point out to the person that you’ve noticed they’ve been on their device a lot and you were wondering if everything was ok.

Help your children understand that they need to be present for the people who are physically in front of them first. Don’t let the person in the phone be put first. Teach them to stay engaged and let the person in the phone wait a minute. This will deepen the relationships in your family.

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How to Manage Device Use at Family Gatherings - ETB #103