Modern Family Time
I can imagine. OK, not really. Not at seven anyway. Although I wouldn’t go anywhere overnight without my computer and my phone.
It’s no longer unusual to see families sitting together at the same table in a restaurant while each person, kids included, is checking his or her phone. We know the statistics about the importance of families eating together, but does this really count?
“Family time” may be in the process of being redefined. There are some families, according to the New York Times, who insist that having everyone in the same room, even if each person is fully immersed in his or her own reality on the screen, is a kind of family togetherness. After all, they say, now and then someone will look up and say, “Wow. Look at this.” Advocates also point out that it’s better for parents and kids to be in the same room together instead of everyone in his or her own room, making it easier to parents to monitor what their kids are doing. They have a point with that one.
In addition, it’s not as if every family dinner is a quality experience. We may long for the days of yesteryear (when was that exactly?) when the dinner hour was time for polite, interesting conversations regarding everyone’s day. I don’t actually remember a lot of those moments either as a kid or as a parent. What I remember is squabbles between siblings, complaints about the food, refusal to even try a bite of something, and on occasion someone being sent from the table in tears. That was as a parent. I remember family meals when I was a kid about as fondly as I remember having to say the rosary as a family during Lent while all the other kids were outside playing Kick the Can because the family that prays together stays together. I used to envy my friends whose families got to eat off trays in front of the TV.
But the seven-year-old, who looked at the picture of the family in the Times, each with his or her own tech device, said, “You know, you can do both. Talk and text. Or talk and play on your computer.”
“You think so?” I said.
“Yeah,” she said. “When me and my sister and Mom and Dad play Guitar Hero we don’t have to talk about it. We just do it.”
No point in bemoaning how technology is ruining family time. It is what it is, an integral part of life, and that includes family time.