The joy of missing out on our gadgets


Are we losing intimacy as families because we’re on our gadgets too much?

There’s a video of comedian Louis C.K. on Conan that has really gone viral. In it, he explains why he wouldn’t want his kids to have smartphones.

This morning, I was taking my son to school and I realized I had left my phone at home. I was 30 seconds from the house, but I was going to be out for a few hours…Should I turn around and get it or not? I thought if I go home for it, I’m on a leash.

So I went and dropped my son at school, went to a medical appointment, had an interview, and got back home. I had 7 missed calls, lots of missed texts, and a zillion emails. But you know what? None of it mattered. None of it was life or death.

I’ve seen the loss of family intimacy in my own home. There are times when we’re sitting around at the house and all of us are on some kind of electronic gadget and we’re not communicating…except to excitedly exclaim about a new video or whatever, “Hey, have you seen this…”

So how do you get back that family time? One answer, like the one Louis C.K. proposes, is to not let your kids have gadgets. Or you can quarantine them, even your own. When you get in the house, put away that phone until after dinner.

I also believe in electronic curfews for kids, usually around 8:30 or 9, depending on the child’s age. And if you don’t want to disrupt your sleep, do not sleep with the cell phone at your bedside. It doesn’t have to be the last thing you see when you go to bed and the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning.

Think about ways to set boundaries in your own life.

My family challenged me and said they wanted to see me go a whole weekend without my phone. I am now going to accept that challenge that was rhetorical and make it a reality. I know it sounds silly, but there’s this psychological connection — some would say addiction — to technology that you don’t want to rule your life. I don’t want it to rule mine.

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