Is there such a thing as a healthy dose of technology?
You might have seen the studies on screen time: The average teen sends 50+ text messages a day. Women are more likely to log onto Pinterest, and men to Google+. And only about 30 percent of people over age 70 even use the Internet.
Since different generations prefer different technologies, is there a rift in communication between them? Not necessarily. Perhaps surprisingly, young people who spend the most time with technology also spend more time doing physical activities, enjoying hobbies, and hanging out with their parents, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Since technology is an important part of the lives of many of us—no matter what our age—don’t fight it. Instead, put technology to work for you to bring different generations together.
Family time, tech time
Look for ways to say good-bye to screen time and engage all ages in your family this summer.
- Get outdoors, tech in hand. Web-based tools use GPS to map, find and create outdoor trails. Log onto a website like Map My Hike. Or download the app. With your family, take a virtual look at area walks, hikes or even a paddle, and then get out and do it for real. With a smart phone, you can pull up your route in real-time to show your progress. Once back at home, you can see your trip online and even name it in honor of your family.
- Make family meals a priority. Studies show that kids who eat meals with their families feel better about themselves and the future, for example. They are also less likely to try risky activities like drugs and fighting. To get tech in the mix, help your children search the internet for healthy recipes that use their favorite foods. Use the search words, “eat right nutrition tips” to reach some great resources of the American Dietetics Association. Look for picnic items for the warmer days ahead, and a nice warm soup for the chillier days of late winter.
- Have a relative who isn’t so tech savvy? Here’s a great chance for you to set up cross-generational connections. Have a younger relative teach the older relative how to use e-mail, find a good health website (suggestions can be found on our website) or use a webcam. Then when they’re apart, they can still connect.
- While out on a walk, during a drive or over dinner, talk about technology.
- Discuss each person’s favorite technology item, including those they own and ones they would like to have.
- Discuss what kind of software application, or “app,” each person like to invent, and what they would need to do it.
- What websites are their favorites?
Be conscious of turning technology ‘Off’ when it interferes with quality time. But you can also use it to engage your family and improve the quality of your time together.