Screen-Free Zones: Creating Tech-Free Spaces for Family Bonding

Technology has made it easier than ever to access information and entertainment. Although our phones, laptops, and other smart gadgets can save us time, they can also be a timesuck. If you’re noticing your family members — especially those Gen Zers — are zoning out more behind their own individual screens, it may be time to consider creating screen-free spaces in your home.

Here’s what you need to know about tech-free spaces to bring family members together and how to incorporate them into your home.

What are tech-free spaces?

Tech-free spaces refer to zones in your house or apartment that aren’t centered around technology. The idea is to make these rooms where your family can take a break from its gadgets and hang out with one another.

How thoroughly you want to remove technology is up to you. For example, you may have a sitting room that’s free of TVs and computers but still incorporates smart lighting or outlets for safety and convenience.

Benefits of tech-free spaces

We spend an average of about seven hours on the internet each day. When you factor eight hours for sleep and eight hours for work or school, that leaves only one hour of the day we’re not on our screens. Depending on your specific habits, you may spend less time on a screen, but if you’re noticing your family’s talking less and scrolling more, a tech-free space can help.

1. It encourages conversation

When you don’t have a device or TV to rely on for entertainment, your family is more likely to interact with each other. This can help you reconnect and appreciate the importance of in-person connections. Putting down your phone can help improve your mental health and even counteract feelings of loneliness.

2. You can find new ways to connect

Instead of relying on the TV as your sole source of entertainment, your family will likely find new ways to connect with each other. This could include shooting hoops outside, going on walks, playing board games, or listening to music together.

3. It can ignite creativity

Smartphones can bring the world to your fingertips, but recent studies have shown they can stifle your creativity. By encouraging your family members to put their phones down in certain rooms, you can actually help reignite their creativity — whether that’s through art, writing, or creative problem solving.

How to create tech-free zones in your home

There’s not one blueprint for creating a tech-free zone that will work for everyone. Instead, you’ll need to think about the technology your family spends the most time on and figure out ways to decrease your dependency. The good news is you don’t need to be a homeowner to incorporate these rules. They work for renters, too.

If your kids frequently depart to their bedrooms to watch TV, consider removing the TVs and encourage them to gather in the living room instead. If you want to go tech-free entirely, consider turning a den, family room, or unused dining room into a game room with a craft area. This gets your kids away from screens and interested in other activities.

You can also make the kitchen and dining room “no phone areas” to prevent your family from ignoring one another when hanging out in two of the main gathering spots in your house.

What if you can’t move a screen from a room?

In some cases, removing technology won’t make sense, but you can adjust the rules to fit your family’s specific situation.

For example, the TV in your living room may be fun for family gatherings. In this case, moving the TV might not be feasible, but putting it on a timer might work. Once it’s off, your family will find other ways to entertain itself.

Adjust the rules when needed

Tech-free spaces should work for your family, not against it. If you need to adjust the rules to accommodate work or school schedules, you can.

You should revisit any anti-technology rules to ensure they’re working. If they’re sending your kids to their rooms earlier so they can get screen time, you might want to try limiting screen time rather than banning it altogether.

If you sell your home and move into a new place, you’ll want to readjust to accommodate your new layout. Ultimately, the goal is to bring your family closer together, so create tech-free, or limited tech, zones that work best for you.

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