I’m far from a perfect parent. I have many regrets — things I wish I could do over.
But here’s one thing I’m proud of: we made screen-free family dinners a priority. Besides praying together (nearly) every night, I believe this is one of the main reasons I still have a great relationship with my girls.
Last week I heard two things that showed me how screen-free family dinners are more important than I ever thought.
Maybe a matter of life and death.
First, my friends at ScreenStrong published a vital podcast with Dr. Adriana Stacey & Melanie Hempe. Dr. Stacey is a psychiatrist. She started the podcast by citing a few studies on the value of screen-free family dinners. Some of benefits seem obvious, but others are surprising. Want any of this in your family?
- Less conflict in the family overall (not just at dinner)
- Better family relationships
- Healthier food choices – healthier kids
- Better grades in school
- Teenagers exhibit better mental & emotional health
- Kids and parents are happier
- Reduced stress for everyone (including working moms!)
- Improved finances (saved money)
I encourage you to listen to the podcast to hear much more.
Dr. Stacey said that the meal doesn’t have to be fancy at all. It just needs to be regular, and scheduled to include the whole family. And (maybe I mentioned) it needs to be screen free. I love that her family goes around the table and shares highs and lows from the day.
A Sickening Contrast
Second, there was the horrific news that a 12-year-old girl from Argentina died after trying the “choke challenge” she learned about on TikTok. Other kids in the U.S. have also suffered similarly tragic deaths.
Why was this 12-year-old girl on TikTok? Because she had to have a phone. Because she had to have TikTok. All her friends were doing it. But now she’s dead. Did she really need those things after all?
My heart goes out to her parents because they were just going along with popular trends. They didn’t know any better. They were influenced by the most powerful global propaganda campaign in history, like everyone else.
If those parents could go back in time, I bet they wish they’d have made different choices about their daughter’s technology. I bet they’d love to have screen-free family dinners with her, instead of everyone in their rooms on their phones after school.
Quite a contrast.
How About You?
May I encourage you to make screen-free family dinners a commitment (not a resolution) this year. I guarantee that your life will be better. And if you have kids, they’ll have super-powers over those who blindly follow our screen-obsessed culture.
It’s time for a cultural revolt against addictive technology. It’s time to be more intentional with our lives than the biggest corporations in the world — those who became the biggest by manipulating us into wasting our lives (or literally dying) because of their products.
And maybe the first step in the revolution is as simple as a meal.
Postscript: As empty nesters, my wife and I still have screen-free dinners, and pray together (nearly) every night. It’s probably why we’re still happily married.