Think about your fondest memories. Was technology involved? Technology has enhanced our lives greatly, but it can also keep us from interacting with others.
Have you ever been out with someone who was only on the phone? How does it feel? Sadly, we have all been that person at one point or another. Normally, people are more prone to gravitate toward technology if someone else is on theirs.
Technology has its pros and cons when it comes to relationships. In one way, it can enhance our relationships by giving us a chance to communicate with those that we may not see all the time. In another way, it can keep us behind the computer which means fewer face-to-face conversations. Adults are just as bad as, if not worse than, children at relying on technology. One reason kids may be using more technology is because we are not offering enough options of things to do. Good relationships with family and friends take time and effort.
Here are some simple steps to start breaking free from technology.
• Add up the time spent on technology and keep a media diary. This is a great way to open your eyes to how much time you truly spend on technology. It is easy to lose track of time when being on social media or playing a game. Various apps are available to monitor your time on your phone. Have a set time where no technology is allowed. In order to accomplish this, try to set a time that works for everyone and make sure to enforce it on everyone. Some people go as far as to put all technology (phones, TV remotes, and tablets) up in a designated box or basket.
• Enjoy at least one meal a week together with no technology. According to the Family Dinner Project, research shows that regular family meals together will increase physical, mental, and emotional health in children, teens, and adults.
• This Valentine's Day, come up with technology-free activities that you can do together with your family. Below are 10 activities that you can do today with your loved ones that do not require technology. These activities should bring you and your loved ones lots of fun, laughter, and you may even learn new things about each other.
• Have a family game night, which could include cards and board games, as well as even creating your own game. Do a puzzle. Try a new recipe or teach a family recipe. Go on a scavenger hunt, play outside, or just go out and play in snow. Do a craft or learn a new skill together. Make homemade Valentine's Day cards to send to your loved ones and neighbors, even if they receive them late, they will know you were thinking of them on Valentine's Day. Pick a cause that you and your family could volunteer for. Engage in random acts of kindness by leaving notes around town, change for treats in stores, or buying coffee for someone.
Maya Angelou once said: "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." This year, I challenge you to set limits on technology use, make every effort to enjoy time with family and friends, create memories, and take time to smell the roses.
Heather Winn is a family and consumer sciences educator for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County.