National Edition

Creating meaningful family moments in a plugged-in world

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29 2013 3:20 p.m. MST

For McGraw, technology presents more options. When the Mcgraw family went on vacation to Hawaii recently, each member of the family brought a camera, with the incentive to take as many pictures as they wanted. After the trip, they plan on compiling all of the photos into a video, together, to create for keepsakes and to put into their Christmas card.

"It's something we can do together and all enjoy," McGraw said.

Setting boundaries

Parents needn't worry about their kids developing skills in technology, said Jim Taylor, author of "Raising Generation Tech: Preparing Your Children for a Media-Fueled World." "They are digital natives. Kids will become technologically adept without being glued to their iPad 24/7."

To facilitate meaningful family time, McGraw does not allow phones, television or reading during dinner. Sometimes they sit down for a family movie night and decide that there will be no laptops. "You have to make an effort to not do that," McGraw said.

McGraw doesn't limit her children's texting. "I remember spending hours on the phone until 3 in the morning when I was a teen," McGraw said. "I equivalate their texting to that." At any moment, she will ask her kids to hand their phone to her and she will look over their texts.

McGraw makes sure her kids are aware of the dangers of giving out their information online. She also has installed a program that takes random snapshots of her children's electronics. When they cross dangerous boundaries, "I never take everything away from them," McGraw said. "I use those moments as a teaching opportunity. I try to arm them with the information to be safe."

The world has changed in terms of technology, but raising kids really hasn't, and all the same things are as relevant now as they were 50 years ago, Taylor said.

"How do you raise good kids? Teach them good values, make sure they're physically active, make sure they eat well, play with them, teach them life skills like hard work, the ability to focus, the ability to handle pressure, the ability to communicate effectively — that's what makes people successful and happy, contributing individuals."

For McGraw, technology can play a part in this.

"Technology is here to stay, so we are using it to bring our family closer together," she said. "My kids will not know a life without technology, so we are learning to embrace it. Quality family time is as important today as it was when I was a kid. We are just integrating more technology into our family time."

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News. She has lived in London and is an English graduate from Brigham Young University. Contact her at rachel.lowry@gmail.com or visit www.rachellowry.blogspot.com.

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