How can I help my family disconnect from technology?

Photo by Duri from Mocup

That question seems tougher than ever to answer.

Especially when you consider the infographic below, revealing findings from a study by IPSOS MediaCT and released in AdWeek this week. The study tracked kids and families via 24-hour diaries of behavior. What they found is not overly surprising, but is sobering.

As AdWeek summarizes:

Today’s tots are more likely to have a laptop within reach (83 percent) than play outside (69 percent)...As more technology is introduced into the household, pre-schoolers are less likely to play with toys, play outside and read and more likely to play games and watch videos on a cell phone.

Further, half of 11-12 year-olds have a social network profile, and 6-12 year-olds would rather play their favorite video game than hang out with their favorite people.

Here’s the infographic:

What’s a family to do? In a media-saturated age, we can either dive in wholeheartedly or decide to set boundaries and use discernment. Whether we’ve pre-ordered our iPhone 5 for ourselves (or our kids) or we’re still watching a “fat” TV at home, this requires conversations in which the whole family participates.

I’m grateful for the insights of family therapist and youth worker Rhett Smith, a Fuller grad who continues to help us resource leaders and parents in areas like this. Rhett’s article Maintaining Relational Presence in a Technological World and his idea about creating a family technology basket are just two ways to get your own (or other) families talking about technology in helpful ways in this busy fall season. You could even start this weekend.

What are your best ideas for helping families periodically disconnect from technology?