The Character Movement

Technology Sabbath

By Joe Cavanaugh, Founder & CEO

Today’s the first day of spring. A month ago, those of us living in Minnesota wondered if our frigid winter would ever stop. Soon, warmer weather and sunshine will draw people out of their homes and my neighborhood will suddenly seem busier. With the opportunity to be outside more this spring, it can be a good time to unplug, head outside and smell the tulips.

We have a long-standing rule in our home: no technology at the dinner table. We unplug and remind each other that being present with one another is more important than anything trying to interrupt us. Ever since Tess was only a year old, Jane and I have modeled to her that when the phone rings at dinner, we don’t answer it because our time together is more important than whoever is calling. We have expanded that unplugging to each Sunday at our house and have started a tradition of going tech-free: no TV, no computer, no stereo. Instead, we play board games, read or do something outdoors. We find ourselves talking more and connecting in a real, human way. We even sometimes enjoy being bored.

Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy technology. I enjoy having music, computer time, movies, etc. But from my own experience, I know that technology can be more of a disconnect than a connect.

At eight-years-old, Tess is already asking when she can get a phone. We’re not ready for that yet, but when that day comes, I hope I remember this story that a mom recently told me:

When my son was in sixth grade, he wanted a cell phone like all of his friends. Around this time, we were also giving him greater freedom to ride his bike around the neighborhood. Our son argued that a cell phone would allow us to reach him if we needed him to come home.

I countered by giving him a wristwatch.

“I don’t need to call you to tell you to come home or figure out where you are,” I said. “Instead, we’ll set a time for you to be home and – with this new watch – you’ll always know what time it is. If you aren’t home at that time, you lose the privilege of riding your bike.”

I smiled when I heard this story. As adults, we are always racing to keep up with technology, but maybe it’s time to get creative with the old. Put away your phone, turn off the TV, grab a watch and go for a bike ride. Try your own technology sabbath and see what activities your family can find to fill their time.

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