How to Bond with Family Distracted by Their Electronics

How to Bond with Family Distracted by Their Electronics

It can be difficult to put down the phone and connect with others in a meaningful way in our digital age. You may find it difficult to connect with family members who are distracted by their laptops, smartphones, or tablets. You can increase the amount of time you spend with your immediate and extended family by encouraging them to unplug. If giving up electronics seems too difficult, try incorporating electronics into family activities so that you can all spend time together and have fun.

Method 1 Encouraging Your Immediate Family to Unplug

1. Talk about your feelings with your spouse. Before you begin imposing rules on your family, it is a good idea to sit down and discuss your feelings with your spouse. This will allow you to reach an agreement on what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable electronic use.

Share your ideas for encouraging your family members to unplug, but also listen to your spouse’s suggestions.

Make a list of what you want to happen with your household’s electronics.

2. Decide on a “no electronics” period. Setting a “no electronics” time once a day is one way to encourage family bonding. You could talk to your family members and ask them to assist you in determining a time when you can all put your electronics away and spend time together. Perhaps the “no electronics” period is set for an hour after dinner so that everyone can talk and hang out at the table together. Or maybe you all agree to a one-hour “no electronics” period on Saturday mornings so you can do a family activity together without distractions.

You could all agree on a rule that says you can only pick up your electronics in an emergency. Otherwise, the “no electronics” time should be free of phone calls, texting, and web browsing.

3. Establish electronic-related household rules. You can make it easier to bond with your family by establishing household rules regarding the use of electronics at home. You could make it a rule that electronics are not permitted during family meals, such as breakfast and dinner. Everyone must agree not to check their phones or take any calls during the meal.

Another rule could be that electronics are not permitted when dining out or on family outings. You could advise the family to leave their electronics at home or in the car when dining out. You can also encourage family members to put their electronics away when you go on a family outing.

4. Discuss the value of unplugging. Discuss with your family how unplugging can help you all bond in a more meaningful way. You could hold a family meeting to discuss the use of electronics and why it is important to unplug and spend quality time together. Allow everyone to speak up and share their thoughts at the family meeting. As a family, you might come up with some rules and guidelines for using electronics so that you can all feel like you’re really connecting.

For instance, you could tell your family, “I’ve noticed that we all seem to be distracted by electronics.” I want us to feel like we’re spending quality time together, and I want to form meaningful bonds with you all. Can we talk about how we use electronics and how we can spend more time together as a family?”

5. Suggest a non-electronic outdoor outing. You can encourage your family to disconnect and spend quality time together by taking them outside, preferably to a location where there is no cellphone or internet reception. You could organise a hiking trip where you camp and hike together without using electronics. You could also go on a day trip where you hike in a large city park and try to focus on nature rather than your cellphones.

Involve the family in the planning of the trip so that they feel invested and included. You could hold a family meeting to discuss the logistics of the trip as well as the no-electronics rule for the outing. Give each member of the family a job or a role in the trip’s planning so that everyone feels included.

6. Play games with your family. Another way to encourage your family to unplug is to play non-electronic family games together. This could be anything from board games to word games to a simple game of hide and seek. Try to play a non-electronic family game at least once a week so that you can all spend quality time together and have fun.

Set aside one “Game Night” per week to play a different board game as a family. You could also plan weekend family get-togethers where you run around and play outside instead of staying indoors with your electronics.

7. Engage in a conversation with the family. Instead of texting, calling, or using social media to communicate with the family, engage in face-to-face conversation. Try to strike up a conversation with your family members at the dinner table or in the morning before they leave for the day.

Maintain a casual and open tone when conversing with the family. You could ask, “What are your plans for the day?” or “What are your plans for today?”

Listen to the person speak in an engaged and interested manner. Maintain eye contact with them and nod to demonstrate that you are paying attention. Then, ask follow-up questions to demonstrate that you are paying attention to what they are saying. For instance, you could ask, “Why are you worried about that test?” or “What are you most looking forward to at school today?”

Method 2 Getting Extended Family Members to Unplug

1. Request that your family members put their electronics away for an extended period of time. If you’re having trouble connecting with extended family members who are engrossed in their electronics, politely ask them to put them away for a while. Maybe you have a niece who always seems to be on her phone. Perhaps you have a cousin with a laser beam focus on his tablet. You could approach a family member and ask them to put the electronics away for a few minutes so you can all bond as a family.

“Would you mind putting your phone away for a few minutes so we can talk?” or “Do you think you could put your tablet away for a few minutes so we can all hang out?”

Place a basket near your front door for people to leave their cellphones in when they enter your home, similar to how you would ask guests to remove their shoes when they enter your home.

2. Suggest a meal free of electronics. You could suggest that everyone in the house have an electronics-free meal to carve out some quality time with extended family. You could put a basket near the front door where everyone can leave their electronics and unplug for the hour-long meal. Alternatively, you could suggest that everyone turn off their electronics during dinner so that you can all enjoy a meal together without distractions.

So that your extended family does not feel singled out, try to get everyone at the meal to agree to an electronics free time. Having everyone participate can make the meal less stressful and help everyone bond.

3. Begin a conversation with a member of your family. Start a casual conversation with an extended family member to entice them away from their electronics. Engaging the family member in conversation can help them put down their phone and connect with you.

You may inquire about the family member’s school, job, or any other activities that they participate in on a regular basis. Discuss the family member’s hobbies or interests with them and ask follow-up questions so that you appear interested in what they have to say.

“Have you finished that painting you started last month?” or “How are you liking your new job?”

Method 3 Integrating Electronics into Family Activities

1. Make a playlist of family music. If your family has a difficult time letting go of their electronics, you may need to think about ways to incorporate technology into your activities. One option is to use a smartphone or computer to collaborate with your family on a playlist. Make a playlist with your family, including songs you think they’ll like. You can then listen to the playlist as a family while travelling or spending time together.

Creating a family playlist can be a fun way to share your musical tastes with your family while also bonding in a fun way. You can also keep adding to the playlist, making it a regular topic of conversation in the family.

2. Play computer games with your friends. Another option is to play computer games or use a computer programme together as a family. This way, you can all bond and spend time together without having to give up electronics entirely. For a game night, you can all choose a computer game that you can play in groups. Alternatively, as a fun way to spend the weekend as a family, you could take turns playing an interactive computer game.

You could experiment with varying the types of games you play as a family on a weekly basis. For example, one night could be computer games and the next night could be board games or an outdoor outing. A variety of games can keep your family entertained while spending time together.

3. Disseminate information using electronic means. Text, video chat, and social media can all be used to communicate with your family. Send interesting articles or videos to your family so that you can all discuss them later at dinner. Keep in touch with your family through texting on a regular basis. This allows your family to use electronics in a healthy and productive manner.

You could try to encourage family members to communicate both electronically and in person. This way, you can maintain a healthy balance in your interactions with one another. You could, for example, send a link to an interesting online article to a family member. Then, at the dinner table, you can all discuss the article to connect in person and bond over a shared issue.

4. Play games that make use of cellphones. Playing games that require family members to use their phones is another way to incorporate electronics into your family time. You can play trivia games and other party games with your cellphones as controllers. Examine the games available for your game console or computer.

The Jackbox Party Pack, which includes trivia, drawing games, and fill-in-the-blank games, is one option.

Creative Commons License