Family dinner is a way to focus in an age of multi-tasking
The front page of the NYT: Hooked on Gadgets and Paying a Mental Price (in Focus and Family Life). By Matt Richtel, 06.07.10
The problem: The blessing and the curse of modern technology as it threatens to invade and distract every aspect of life.
The challenge: Finding positive ways to re-claim time and prioritize the ways we spend it.
One change that can help bring focus, routine, and daresay, "quality time": family dinner.
I am a big fan of modern technology: blogger and Google be praised for making this platform so easily available that I can write this blog, I'm never without my smartphone (though I ditched my AT&T constrained IPhone for a PalmPre, sniff, sniff), I have several domain names and email addresses for different aspects of life, and our family livelihood depends on a technology company my husband co-founded 13 years ago (squeaking through the Internet bust of the late 1990s). I text my teen and my tween to keep tabs on them and my four-year old is sort of a wizard on the keyboard, deftly negotiating Barbie.com and NickJr.com. I am no Luddite.
But we draw the line at dinner. No TV, no computer, no phones or texting, no rushing through dinner to get to one of these devices. It is the time to shut off the distractions and focus on the people in front of us, even if the dinner table can be a cacophony of clanging plates, last-minute requests or grumbling about the night's menu. It is not exactly quiet and peaceful. But the lack of technology at the table makes a huge difference. Knowing that dinner is a dedicated chunk of time with no outside distractions allows the space to let conversations unfold. Even if that chunk of time is just 20-30 minutes, the focus can be on story-telling, relating, sympathizing, joking, or whatever. It's enough time to see what happens, and to just really be together, rather than wondering what's in the Inbox, on the phone or on Facebook.
So, make dinner as a gadget-free zone; it's a solution to the thoroughly modern dilemma of how to reconnect to those right in front of us.