MORE FAMILY TIME
This will sound trite. I can live with that because it is also true. So many of today's issues that I work with families on; sibling rivalry, misbehavior, lack of motivation, anger and destructive acts, are all positively impacted by increased family time. And not just time, but quality time.
Quality family time is when we gather together just to enjoy each other's company and make positive memories. It becomes the glue that holds the family together during more stressful and difficult seasons. It's when we take off our Parent hat and put on our #1 Fan hat. We ask questions about their thoughts and feelings and experiences. We resist the urge to correct their grammar or immaturity. We play and laugh together. We send the message that this family is of more importance than nearly anything else we could be doing right now. And being together in a relaxed, positive atmosphere is like putting money in the bank for a rainy day.
The more our children feel valued, recognized and enjoyed, the more cooperative and pleasant they can be. When they don't have to compete for our time, or act out negatively for our attention, or lie for our admiration, their walls can come down and we can see them for they authentically are.
LESS MEDIA TIME
There are many articles and studies you can read about the effects of media in large quantities. It's worth your time. It's not a super villain, but it does need to be supervised and managed.
The aspect I want to highlight here about media is that it is highly addictive. It stimulates the pleasure center of the brain with little to no effort or interaction required. It's far easier and more comfortable to spend a few hours on your xbox than try to make conversation with your family members. There are no demands put on you by media, you don't have to even think much, let alone use social skills or self-control. You get to experience this fantastical adventure, escape the monotony of reality, and all with no real effort in your part. You can see how, over time, we would choose the easy, hyper stimulating fantasy over the dull, challenging reality of daily life.
So you can certainly have family movie nights, and each member can have a designated amount of media time, but watch carefully that it stays in it's proper place. We need to be practicing our relationships, social skills, patience, compassion and preferring others in our homes. And that requires taking our eyes off our media and interacting with one another, dealing with ups and downs and sometimes boredom of reality. The home is our practice stage for the outside world. But we have to use it.