DENVER — Gone are the days of landlines and snail mail, in our world technology is king. Kids have it all: iPhones, iPods, PlayStations, and more. And their parents are just as plugged in. But is all this technology driving families apart? We challenged two families to take a technology vacation.
Rachel Mirelez and Ricardo Zambrano are parents to Destiny, Manuel, and Isaiah. Rachel says nights at home have changed.
“Everybody just separates themselves from each other. We’re never together; we hardly spend any time together,” Mirelez said.
She volunteered her family to see if they could come together again. But as you can imagine, the kids are none too pleased.
“My phone is my life and it’s just hard losing it because I talk to everybody,” said 13-year-old daughter, Destiny.
The family took this seriously, with dad locking up all the cell phones and video game controllers, and unplugging the TV.
Next we headed to LaSalle and the Mondragon family: Ray, Caiti, and their three young kids who like to play on Kindle Fires.
“I like to read and play games and watch movies on it,” said daughter Emaleigh.
The kids will have a tough time putting their gadgets away, but in this family the parents might have the hardest time of all.
“I’m a marketing manager so I manage social media, I’m always on the internet,” said Ray Mondragon.
“If something happens in the house I like to blog about it right away or share, and that’ll be hard for me,” said Caiti. “Also, not checking Pinterest. I’m a Pinterest addict.”
All of their electronics were turned off and stored under the couch. And Ray unplugged the TV, even turning it around as a reminder of their challenge.
No Gadgets Means Tough Days and Nights
After several days of the tech break, as predicted, 13-year-old Destiny was having a very tough time.
“It’s hard because I can’t talk to my friends and I get really sad about it,” she said.
Rachel says the kids are even trying to bribe her to get their phones back.
“I’ll do the dishes, I’ll clean my room, we’ll do your laundry,” she said.
But they’re finding ways to pass the time by playing outside and playing board games. Over in La Salle, the Mondragons are also finding low tech ways to have fun.
“From technology I’ve been sober 5 days now,” joked Ray. “The iPhone is tough, yes. But what I’ve immediately noticed the first day is that I’m more aware of my surroundings.”
They Made It!
After seven days, the tech vacation was over. Rachel said it was tough but the benefits for her family were worth it.
“I saw all my babies together and playing together and interacting with each other. It was nice,” she said.
The kids actually seemed to agree.
“We played Uno and Connect 4 and played soccer outside,” said Isaiah.
“It was hard, but now today when we get them back I don’t even want to get on it,” said Manuel.
And the biggest change was phone addict, Destiny.
“I feel a lot better because I got rested and I used to stay up just watching TV and on my phone,” she said. “I learned that sometimes electronics aren’t really that helpful through any situation you have.”
The Mondragons felt a similar change.
“This week has really shown me that wherever you are, be there. Put your phone down,” said Ray.
They noticed that without technology family dinners ran longer and they actually felt like they had more time. So the Mondragons are incorporating the tech vacation into their family routine.
“We’ve decided that as a family we’re only going to watch TV on the weekends so that we’re more engaged as a family during the week,” said Ray.
After a week the gadgets were back and both families had their noses right back in their phones. But now they know life doesn’t revolve around electronics.