When a screen hands you a remote, sometimes quality family time requires you to just thumb your nose.
Yes, we realize that cutting off screen time can be a revolutionary act — and might result in near mutiny on the path to quality family time. But hey, isn’t that a sign that it needs to be done?
Let’s set aside other compelling reasons for doing so, like Internet addiction disorders or the amount of violence our children are exposed to in the media. Let’s just focus here on reclaiming quality family time.
And there is no easier – or harder – way to curb the exposure to media violence or reclaim family time than by killing the TV, game and phone screens.
That’s obviously not easy. So in the spirit of a really hard game, we’ve pulled together these cheat codes to help you hack your way back to undivided family time.
7 Cheat Codes to Hack Quality Family Time
Cheat Code No. 1: Cut the Coax Cable
Okay, maybe don’t actually cut the cable wire. But hiding it for a weekend can be quite effective! Quality family time takes effort.
Why do this? It can force everyone to find something else to do other than default to common TV shows. It can help change habits and generate time for great conversations and connection.
CAUTION: If you REALLY do cut the cable (like with scissors — that’s hard core!), for Pete’s sake DEFINITELY unplug all the wires first!
Cheat Code No. 2: Unplug the Internet Router
No, seriously, your internet router will reboot just fine later. Just unplug it–right from the wall.
Tip: Be sure to grab some ear plugs. You will need them for the next 10 minutes. Trust us, gremlins will come — yelling and running from all corners of the house! This is your chance to redirect them to something more fun! (An old fashioned Clue board game and quality family time maybe?)
Cheat Code No. 3: Set Up Parenting Controls
Most Internet and cell phone providers offer services to restrict the content and duration of time that children can spend on a device. This handy service is an easy way for parents to turn off the internet for a weekend of family time, kill the data during dinner, etc. Each service is different, so you will want to research how your service allows this. Below, there are links to some common services and information on their parenting controls.
Why do this? It gives you the master control switch! If the internet (games or TV, or surfing) has sucked in your young child and their attention is gone, use this great cheat code to regain family time.
Advice: Use this cautiously. Sometimes, games will lock kids out for hours or days if they stop playing mid-game. This is a horrible trap that the game companies use to keep kids (and adults!) glued to the games. So pulling the plug may be one of the best ways to achieve quality family time and good mental health, but just be aware of the consequences. Keep in mind that online game time is how many kids connect socially with their friends, especially in rough times, such as the COVID quarantines.
|AT&T Wireless||Cellular/data||Read more|
|AT&T/Direct TV||TV/Internet||Read more|
|Charter Spectrum cable||TV/Internet||Read more|
|Cox cable||TV/Internet||Read more|
|Optimum (Altice)||TV/Internet||Read more|
|Suddenlink Communications||TV/Internet||Read more|
|U.S. Cellular||Cellular/data||Read more|
|Xfinity (Comcast)||TV/Internet||Read more|
Cheat Code No. 4: Slow Your Internet Speed, Improve Quality Family Time
It’s heresy in this age to think of SLOWER INTERNET speeds being better. But consider this: most games and videos require higher speeds, especially with multiple people streaming in a household. Slower speeds will make some content just not playable — and other content less enjoyable. (This is more likely to affect gaming than simple, that is not HD, video streaming.) Just think of it as the tortoise and the hare. When it comes to family bonding, tortoise internet speeds might win the race!
Why do this? This may be too much to give up for most, but if you want a deterrent, this is a strong (albeit frustrating) one. If you’re up for the “sacrifice,” just call up your internet provider and ask for the slowest plan they offer!
Cheat Code No. 5: Don’t Update Hardware
Yikes! Be sure you caught that this was “hardware” we’re talking about here, not software. Software needs to be updated to keep your devices as secure as possible. But if you stop updating to the latest hardware — the newest, fastest TVs, phones, and computers, things start to slow down a bit after awhile, as they can’t keep up with the latest games and video technology (less so for video, more so for games).
Why do this? This is a long-game approach, but it can be a strategic way to slow down and frustrate the obsession with game and video speeds. And the annoyance — of extra seconds waiting for downloads — might lead to extra hours of quality family time. And it might save some money!
Cheat Code No. 6: Flip Is Back!
Oh yeah, you remember the old flip phones! Those stylish little bricks. Well, you don’t have to go that far back, but consider “upgrading” your kiddos to non-smart phones that just dial and do basic texting. They can still text (with qwerty numerical keypads) and make emergency calls, but the internet will be seriously slowed down, or even gone. These new phones will not likely be of enough interest to disrupt dinner, board game night, faith services, or school. But they will do the basics just fine.
Why do this? Well, it might be a tough sell to your teen that it’s smart to not use smart phones, but the upside will be less internet time, fewer carpal tunnel motions, and maybe (if you’re concerned about the effects of electromagnetic radiation frequencies, or EMF) less radiation against the body, depending on the model. Oh, and more quality family time!
Cheat Code No. 7: Get Away from it All
Go camping where there is no internet. Find a hotel in the mountains or swamps or canyons. Go where the internet signal can’t follow. If you need some ideas, there is a list of suggestions in the articles linked below. Those come with a price tag (and require being able to travel), but to stay on a budget, research some areas near you that have no cost.
Why do this? Not only will you unplug, but you will change the scenery to the great outdoors and create opportunities for some exciting quality family time.
|Esquire||11 Phone-Free Vacation Destinations to Visit||Explore|
|Family Vacations blog||13 Best Digital Detox Family Vacations||Explore|
|Huffington Post||The World’s Prettiest Places Without Internet Access||Explore|
|Travel & Leisure||Best Vacation Spots to Unplug||Explore|
Editorial disclaimer: Umm, it’s okay not to mention the source of this one to your kids. We won’t be offended. Disrupting their favorite pastimes requires some diplomacy and clear explanations as to why you’re taking these steps, in other words, good communication. As parents, we also realize that sometimes you just have to cut the cord to TV, games, and phones to be able to have that communication!
Why is TV a Risk to Children? If you are interested, you might find this blog post on media violence helpful.