Don’t let technology control family time!

Technology. Thanks to smartphones and Wi-Fi, it’s everywhere these days. Sometimes I wonder how in the world our family ever lived without it, and other times I really wish we could find out!

As an entrepreneur, I often feel the need to be plugged in 24/7. My team members all have my phone number and know the door is always open to talk. I check my email often to make sure everything is going well.

But I recently got a wake-up call from one of my kids. She called me out and said, “You know, Dad, when you put me to bed you used to really talk to me, but now I catch you checking your text messages or checking your email. It kind of feels like you’re not really here.”


I realized right then that I had been letting technology take control of what should have been family time.

As I thought about it, I realized I was doing the same thing with my wife when I came home every day. Instead of being all-in and fully present when I walked in the door, I’d be checking technology all night long.

It caused me to realize that family time isn’t family time if we’re not fully present for it.

How to Take Back Your Family Time

I decided to make a change. I led by example. I put my technology on the table.

Now, when I walk into the house after a day of work, I put my smartphone on the table.

I know where it is if I need it. I can hear it if it rings. But I’m not tempted to check it every two minutes.

Just by doing what seems a simple thing, I am free to connect with my kids and my wife without being tempted to check emails, social media, or voicemail one more time.

I’ve even coined the phrase in our family: Put your technology on the table. When we all go out to dinner as a family, it’s the first thing we say. Every member of the family then puts their technology in the middle of the table.

Our kids get out their phones, and we stack them up in a pyramid on the table. All of our technology stays on the table until the dinner is done.

By putting our technology on the table, we all get a break from the constant tug of technology. It sends a clear signal that we are choosing to focus our attention on one another.

It’s also allowed us to talk more about how we can intentionally use technology in a positive way with our family. By not posting to Instagram or checking email for a few minutes, we can get the greatest return on our investment of time together as a family.

Now whenever we gather as a family, whether for dinner, family meeting, or any family time, we put technology on the table — and it changes the dynamics of the gathering. Our kids will even call for everyone to put technology on the table if they want to get our attention.

The fact is that technology is important; we couldn’t run our businesses without it. And it can make family life simpler in some ways.

But if you really want to become a family that wins, put your technology on the table — and encourage the rest of your family to join you.

What do you think of our solution for putting technology in its place? What other strategies have you discovered for protecting family time from technology?



  1. Carneal Smith September 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    I will implement this idea for my family. Great idea to place it on the table.

  2. Annette September 2, 2017 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    I love how your family makes putting the devices down and focusing on each other an intentional choice. It makes family, rather than technology, the priority-at least for that time.
    Sundays used to be device-free days only for our daughter. But we soon came to realize putting ours down was good for us too. I’m self-employed and my husband can get calls any day at any time, so we keep our devices on if important matters arise, but most of the time they don’t.

  3. Ester Niska September 2, 2017 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Perfect! Thank you for this important reminder!

  4. Devin September 2, 2017 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    JUST had this very conversation with my father-in-law, at the bbq–in the context of The Atlantic Magazine’s article (Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?) on iPhones and a “ruined generation” and Andy Crouch’s recent talk at the Q Conference in Nashville.

    1) We centralize our phones and screens out of the family life and bedroom. Plug ’em in. We (are learning) to use THE LIGHT PHONE (aka “dumb phone” that forwards from our iPhone) in the house and in the park.

    2) Other than that, our home is screen-free for our 6 y/o.** Very much a Simplicity Parenting (book) approach.

    3) And I don’t see #2 changing until her teen years. And even then in a tech-limited form (flip phone vs smartphone–or whatever the next wiz-bang, must-have option will be then).

    Now granted, this becomes a challenge with our Pandora music preference (Hillsong United is the go-to). And we’re not using a “real” camera for photography or video–that’s the iPhone. **And then there’s the staying in touch with core family via FaceTime.

    Interestingly as I work with speakers these days, increasingly I hear about these themes and the impact of screens on relationships. Striking.

    BTW, here’s that article:
    Here’s that Andy Crouch talk:

  5. Ben Watson September 3, 2017 at 12:01 am - Reply

    Fully agree with your post, we find in our family technology is a distraction from what we really should be engaged in, keeping our link with the Lord, the devil always wants to occuply your time and mind with things other than Christ. Putting technology on the table is a great idea and we found when we do it, family time is so much more enjoyable.

  6. Susan Cunning September 3, 2017 at 7:29 am - Reply

    Excellent idea !!!! And maybe to keep the devices on silent too at least for dinner or a certain time. I’m definitely game to trying this with our family. I do feel we have way to much head down into a phone time. And I’m on a mission to do what I can you change it .

    It’s amazing how valuable I feel when my husband looks me in the eye when he is talking with me, and I want to keep that feeling alive and strong in our marriage .

  7. Elman Ritonga September 5, 2017 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Love this article. I will implement it in my family.

  8. Emilie September 6, 2017 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Thank you, thank you!!! I love this article! We all need to be more self aware and deliberate with our time, especially when I comes to family!! Technology is quietly taking over and we don’t even realize it!! Very wonderful article!

  9. Jeremiah Zaretsky September 6, 2017 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    It’s easier for me to put technology on the table than it is for my wife. Being home with our 4 kids all day, she says she needs to check out to keep her sanity. Also, she is in constant touch with other friends via FB messenger or regular text messages, and that keeps her connected to the outside world, when she feels like she’s in the bubble of our home all day.

    The issue of having self-control with our phones is a constant conversation, but one that easily pushes buttons!

  10. Olutoyin October 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    I really appreciate this post. It is becoming a very big problem now. striking the balance is the issue we all need to embrace. The holy book teaches us that, there is time for everything. Wisdom to set our priorities right is more needed. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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