Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson
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Please disconnect all devices: plug in to family time

Information is highly accessible in this digital age, but at what price? It is easy to answer just one more email, post one more Facebook update, or defeat one more level of Candy Crush Saga. Parents and children alike are sucked into the vortex of smartphones and tablets to the detriment of the whole family.

In a fresh, new family-focused campaign, Chick-fil-a made headlines with a brilliant campaign urging families to unplug and share a meal. The challenge is to put your electronic devices in "the chicken coop" while you eat. Those families able to disconnect for a full meal are rewarded with free ice cream cones. Of course, the real reward is not dessert, it's the conversation and connection that comes from focused family time.

Studies show more digital interaction equals less meaningful relationships

Cell phones, especially smartphones, are convenient and almost necessary for many modern professions. It is easy to stay on top of client interactions, monitor projects at the office, and even access the latest PTO fundraiser to make a donation.

Video games entertain the kids while parents take an important client call. The latest movie trailers and game highlights are at our fingertips. You no longer have to miss anything - except for socialization with your coworkers, friends, and family.

The more you dial into your devices, the less connected you are to the world around you. Electronic devices create an invisible wall around us and ultimately decrease the quality of our relationships.

Recent studies are exploring the social effects of our cell phone usage and not surprisingly, they indicate a lack of connectedness and empathy leading to less meaningful relationships.

Time Magazine reported on Pphubbing (Partner Phone Snubbing), a phenomenon explored in a Baylor University study. Findings indicated that cell phone distraction could do more than harm relationships, Pphubbing was also positively linked to depression and overall decreased life satisfaction.

If these studies primarily reference adults, imagine the affect on parent-child relations? Though electronic devices help parents keep tabs on their kids leading to increased safety, there comes a point when usage strains the relationships. Kids can actually come to resent their parents' phone usage when it inhibits their ability to bond.

Holding a parent's undivided attention when recanting the details of his/her day is priceless for a kid. That one email can certainly wait while your little one tells you what they did at recess, can't it? Surely no Facebook post is more important than your teen's science project successes?

You may be able to establish a meaningful relationship with a new partner after divorce, but you only get one chance watch your children grow up. We encourage parents to find their own ways to put the devices "in the coop" and enjoy every second possible with their kids.

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