Do your children have smartphones?
My boys, ages 15 and 13, don’t. Jean and I have considered getting the boys simple flip phones for emergencies, but yet … we hesitate opening that door.
Beyond the dangers that come with smartphones, we recognize how easy it can be to become addicted to them. Americans now spend an average of 4.7 hours a day on their phones. We sleep with them on our nightstand and carry them in our pockets. They can certainly be hard to put down.
That’s why I had to smile when I learned of Chick-fil-A’s creative new promotion, the “Family Challenge.” It’s pretty simple: Chick-fil-A provides patrons with a cell phone “coop” – a box where everyone can store their silenced devices. If the family succeeds in enjoying their meal without their phones or devices, the restaurant will give every family member free ice cream!
The campaign has been an instant hit. It’s the perfect intersection for Chick-fil-A’s traditional values brand and the challenges modern families face today.
The overuse of digital devices comes at a time where we’re learning just how much family dinners contribute to a child’s health and happiness. Distraction-free family dinners provide many benefits to kids, according to Forbes: improved vocabulary and self-esteem; reduced chance of childhood obesity and anxiety; and a buffer against drug and alcohol use, among other positive outcomes.
Just because device-free family meals are helpful doesn’t mean they’re easy to achieve, however.
Chick-fil-A says some families have failed at their first attempt to enjoy their meal completely phone-free and have come back to give the challenge a second try. Others have asked to keep the cell phone coop so they can use it during their meals at home. Good for them! It’s like I tell my boys when Jean and I put our phones on the counter during meals, “Time to recharge our phones – and recharge together as a family.”
How does your family handle the issue – are your children allowed to have phones? How do you handle mealtimes? Let me know in the comments below.