Too often we hear how social media and other media have taken us captive and ruined our relationships and lives. Teens texting at the dinner table, kids obsessed with gaming and never giving an adult a glance, adults constantly checking sport scores, messages or texting.

We are all guilty of allowing technology to control us, rather than controlling it. An unintended outcome of not being in control of our choices is that our family relationships can suffer.

So what is our role in taming the technology giant? We are responsible for managing our choices and creating the lives we want when it comes to engaging technology.

Here are two principles to balance your family life with technology:

Disconnect from technology for brief moments and unplug to talk, read, do homework or even play as a family. Determine not to take technology interruptions, look at your phone or engage technology in any way. This can be 30 minutes at dinner, a drive in the car together, or just a family time. See what a difference this makes in the quality of face-to-face interactions. You can unplug for brief seasons. And the benefit to your family will be felt.

Spend time with the people you love. You can have hundreds of “friends” but no real quality relationships. So be intentional about connecting with family/friends in person. Look each other in the eye, talk and share. We have to work at sustaining long-term relationships and that takes being with someone. There is no substitute for real time relationships. We need to practice the skills of interpersonal relationships. A smile at the end of text does not compete with a smile and touch in person.

Technology won’t ruin your relationships if you think of it like a tool, not a substitute for real and honest relationships. Using technology, we often present our best side to people. But in authentic relationships, families see our flaws, our weaknesses and learn how to love us anyway. But love takes in person contact and meaningful conversation. So check your family and observe if you are talking to each other, spending time together and making memories that are more than media posts.

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