According to a survey of U.S. parents, conducted by Toluna, Dallas, Texas, more than half (57%) of parents agree that even when they eat together as a family, some of their family members are distracted by technology.

In our parent’s generation, having dinner at the kitchen table used to be a daily ritual. It was presented at a certain time, and to be late was considered rude and disrespectful. The dinner table was the place for conversations and in-depth discussions as well as arguments, sarcasm, cheesy jokes, and laughter. It was all shared at the same time and place, every day without fail.

Back then, phones were attached to the wall, and if you were sitting at the kitchen table, it was impossible for you to talk on the phone. Now, times have changed, we have cell phones literally attached at the hip, we have laptops, tablets, cable television, FaceTime, smart watches, an abundance of social media, and attention spans the size of gnats.

Time to take a look at your family. Are your children preoccupied at dinner? Are you or your spouse working through dinner on your phones? Did you spend 20 minutes dressing your plate so you could take a picture of your meal and post to Instagram? Is your daughter waiting to see how many likes she has on the picture of her new haircut? Is your son and husband distracted by the television in the next room? Sound familiar?

Now, let’s evaluate. What are the current habits in your family? What are the ideal habits of your family? Do they match?

Here are a list of suggestions from real people on how you and your family can unplug from distractions and engage in each other:

1. “For families with young children: No phones anywhere within earshot, everyone helps bring a dish to the table so no one starts eating before everyone has a seat (moms are always last!). Have everyone share about their day. We love asking the question, “What are 3 things you learned today?” ~ Melissa Hembree

2. “We eat outside without phones. We put music on and just sit and enjoy each other. We try to do this once or twice a week.” ~ Sara Moffett Riley

3. “Sitting at the kitchen table. Having the kids help set the table first. No TV or electronics.” Kristin Driggers

4. “Take post-it’s and write down famous quotes and see how they are interpreted.” Judi Gallagher

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