Disconnect to Connect

I find this trend I  am seeing with my family– and the public– annoying and alarming. Studies are showing it is an actual addiction.

It bothers me how connected they are to their Smartphones.

Scary.

Too Connected

I’ve seen this addiction to technology worsen at such a rapid pace in just my lifetime. People have gone from having meaningful interactions with one another to constantly being on their phones and other technology. ~ Brad Williams 

We are aware this technological distraction is more common than not. According to one study, Americans now spend an average of 4.7 hours per day on their phone. Although our phones were meant to connect us, they can sometimes have the opposite effect.

I am a strong advocate for the Family Table. Miriam Weinstein, author of “The Surprising Power of Family Meals“ believes the dinner table can be the perfect environment where kids learn how to conduct conversations, observe good manners,  listen, and solve conflicts.

How can meaningful conversation happen if our family is distracted by cell phones or T.V. ?

One suggestion I’ve offered for technology devices during meal time is creating a Sabbath box.  Pinterest users have  similar ideas.

Unplug to Connect

Grabbing lunch at Chick-fil-A  on our way home from a  trip with our West Coast grandchildren this week, the Cell Coop Challenge caught our attention.

Brad Williams, a   Chick-fil-A franchisee owner in Georgia, enforces a “no-cell phone” policy with his kids (“screenagers” he calls them)  during family dinner. Realizing this rule worked at home, he decided to apply the same concept in his restaurant.

I’ve been doing this for 25 years and, over that time, I’ve seen customers at our restaurant go from spending quality time and talking with one another to being on their phones the entire meal. There’s just a major disconnect.

Chick-fil-A’s Cell Phone Coop Challenge

The restaurant places a small, square box, (a.k.a. the Coop) on each table, with a simple challenge: enjoy a meal without the distraction of cell phones and receive a free Chick-fil-A Icedream. Guests complete the challenge successfully only if cellphones remain in the Coop untouched for their entire meal.

Dennis was game to try it because of the reward.  It was a challenge, indeed. I’m happy to report we all earned an Icedream!

This reminds me of last summer’s challenge by Dixie to go Dark for Dinner. Dixie asked families to remove all distractions, including electronics, at dinnertime on Sundays. Afterward, everyone was encouraged to share a moment from their experience by using the hashtag #DarkForDinner.

Williams says the Coop challenge has completely taken off. Families who don’t make it the first time due to distractions, come back in to try it again. He says now people are asking to take the boxes home with them.

The challenge has been so well-received that Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country are requesting the Cell Phone Coops. Although this initiative isn’t available at all locations, more than 350 locally owned Chick-fil-A restaurants across the U.S. are offering guests the opportunity to take the Cell Phone Coop challenge.

Way to go, Chick-fil-A!

Huffington Post  reports that their challenge is a sweet, easy way to save customers from a sticky, scary problem: Research has shown that using phones during meals not only leaves you incapable of fully enjoying the food, but damages romantic relationships and contributes to feelings of depression when you’re socially snubbed by your partner. Plus, being distracted by a screen may cause you to eat more than you normally would.

Summer vacation is winding down.  The countdown to school resuming for students has begun.  Reclaim your  family dinner time now before the hectic school year begins.

Are you ready to go dark for dinner one night a week?

Or create a cell phone coop or Sabbath box or cell phone prison  for your family?

Disconnect to Connect Challenge

  1. Set a place for each family member at your table this week.
  2. Disconnect–Have everyone place their silenced mobile devices in a designated place.
  3. Connect. Try this conversation starter offered by Dixie: What would be the title of your autobiography?

Be more here,

Debbie

Image Credit for the Cell Phone Coop: Chick-fil-A

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