In a recent piece called “How Our Digital Devices Are Affecting Our Personal Relationships” on Boston’s WBUR-Boston’s radio series, Digital Lives, Iris Adler reports on one family’s weekly “Sabbath” from the digital world. The Powers family allows no smartphones, video games or computers from Friday night through Sunday night. That’s right. Nothing. Digital. Whatsoever. Could you attempt a Digital Sabbath in your family? Why would you even want to?
Beyond creating more “quality” family time, the challenge no doubt has broader benefits for the Powers’ 15-year-old son, William. Teens, as you’re probably well aware, log about 7.5 hours per day using some form of media outside of school, and every human interaction they have is shaped by this digitization. However, life still calls upon us in key moments to communicate the old fashioned way, with eye contact and verbal exchanges in complete sentences. It may seem like a lost art, or one that’s getting lost, but it’s an art that brings families closer together and separates leaders from the rest of the pack.
If a weekly break from the online world sounds a bit extreme, look for periodic, significant opportunities to unplug. It could allow your son or daughter to see the world in a way that we adults did for much of our lives pre-iPhone, and maybe sometimes take for granted now.
At the end of the day, parents have more influence than they may think when it comes to sparking leadership in their kids. Whether it’s volunteering at a local shelter to set an example, structuring your home life in unconventional ways, or sending your teenager to a new corner of the globe to broaden their worldview, much begins with you.