How much time do you spend using your smartphone, computer, TV, or iPod? What would you do if those things were unavailable to you for one hour each day? Would you be lost without them? Or would you still be able to find something to do?
When I heard about Tech Timeout, I was immediately intrigued. Tech Timeout is a challenge started by ForestersTM that encourages families to take a daily break - for just one hour - from technology. The goal is to help spouses, parents, and children communicate, build stronger bonds, and get involved in each others' lives.
My involvement in Tech Timeout prompted me to do a count of the technology available in my home. There are three adults living here, and we own the following:
3 TVs w/ satellite
2 DVD players
1 Blu-Ray player
4 laptops w/ wireless router
1 iPod Touch
1 Kindle Fire
5 video game systems (2 w/ DVD or Blu-Ray capability)
and we can control the AC/heat from our smartphones
Wow. That's a lot of technology. And I admit that I feel a little panicky if I lose my wi-fi signal. What did we do before all of this technology was available?
When I was growing up in the 70's and 80's, the only technology we had in our home was a TV, 8-track player, record player, and a radio. If we were home and the weather permitted, we played outside. When I got older, we played cards or board games - and we liked it!
When my kids were babies in the early 90's, I didn't even have a cell phone. Until they were old enough to get a job and drive, the four of us ate dinner together every evening. At the dinner table. In the dining room. They would tell us about their day, and we just had family time. No one checking their emails or text messages.
So this past weekend, Gus, Buddy, and I participated in Tech Timeout on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. One hour - each day - no tech devices. (breathe deep, head between the knees - it will be okay...)
Honestly, it was much easier than I expected.
Day 1: Gus and I worked on a project together in the garage. It's amazing what you can do in an hour's time! Not only did we create something, but we spent some quality time together. Once we got started, we didn't even miss our phones. I would also like to point out that this is proof that my phone is not permanently attached to my hand.
Day 2: Buddy, Gus, and I played a few games of Yahtzee. We're all very competitive, and we tend to get a little loud - but we had fun! Once you get involved in the game, you don't even think about your phone or the TV. Back in December, the three of us spent several evenings playing Monopoly and Yahtzee with Lulu and her boyfriend, Bart. It was the best! I say bring back the old board games - all kids should know how to play Life, Sorry, Monopoly, and Yahtzee!
Day 3: The three of us sat out on the deck, enjoyed the weather, scenery, and just talked. It was a great way to relax on a Sunday. Almost like a mini vacation!
The Tech Timeout reminded us that we need to take time to do things together without intrusions from the outside world. Luckily for us, spending time together is easy. We genuinely enjoy each others' company. If it doesn't come that easily to your family, or if you need help thinking of things to do, ForestersTM has a great list of ideas for you:
There is also a pledge form that you can print out and sign:
So whether it's working on a project, taking a walk together, or just sitting side-by-side while reading - it's important to turn off the outside world and tune into your family. We're so glad we did, and you will be, too!