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Unplugged

unplugged

How many times have you been to a restaurant and found diners with their heads down, fingers furiously clicking away on their cell phones. Completely engrossed in what’s happening on the little screen in front of them rather than on the people around them?

The sad truth is that, as more and more people—especially children—become connected, this scene is played out at dinner tables all across the country.

It seems that even though families are together, they somehow aren’t. In today’s fast-paced, technologically-driven world, some might consider the traditional family dinner to be an old-fashioned ritual. But in a PsychologyToday.com article, Dr. Gary Small, a professor of psychology and director of the UCLA Center on Aging, says coming together for the dinner hour not only strengthens our neural circuitry for human contact, it also helps ease the stress we experience in our daily lives.

As we look back on our own childhoods, many of us remember dinner as a time when the family came together. At the end of the day to share their experiences and keep up with each other’s lives. Fast forward 20 years, however, and today, the dinner hour seems to be a more harried affair. With e-mails being checked, videos watched and TV’s blaring in the background, the atmosphere is controlled chaos at best.

To minimize the influence of technology during the dinner hour, there’s more you can do than turning off the TV and banning cell phones from the table. Positive discipline, an online program designed to teach young people to become responsible. Respectful and resourceful members of the community, offers these tips.

TEACH AND MODEL MUTUAL RESPECT

If you don’t want your kids texting or e-mailing at the dinner table, then you first must make sure that you aren’t at the dinner table. In addition, many families establish rules that says no one answers the home phone if it rings during dinner. This rule can apply to the use of any phone.

FAMILY MEETINGS

Make dinnertime the designated time for family meetings, where important family decisions are made. Just like a business meeting at work or with a client. Texting, e-mailing and surfing aren’t only discouraged, but considered poor etiquette.

ESTABLISH ROUTINES

Establish a routine that will ensure technology won’t be an issue at the dinner table. One good routine would be for all family members to turn their phones off. And put them in a basket on the other side of the room before dinner each night.

ASSIGN RESPONSIBILITIES

Family members will be more invested in dinner. They will take more ownership over the dinner ritual. If they engage in jobs that help get dinner on the table. For each night of the week, assign one person in the house to help the main cook each evening. Assign others to have the job of cleaning up after dinner.

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