Reconnect with your plugged-in teens

You want to connect with your teens but modern life is not making it easy. Try these 3 family fun options and make unplugging your teens as pain free as possible.

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  • The weekend arrives. You have no idea where your teens are until the moment you shout, “Supper time!” From all corners of the house your teens emerge blurry-eyed from hours spent watching a tiny computer screen.

  • You want to connect with your teens and modern life is not making it easy. Parental obstacles have always included peers and extra curricular activities, but now the screen rivals them all. Whether your teens are texting, tweeting, listening to music, watching videos or playing games, they’re plugged in — tight. It’s time to pull the plug.

  • Before your teens rage in protest, tell them to relax. You have three fun family togetherness options that gently ease the family towards a completely unplugged adventure.

    • The first family fun option is designed to ease into family togetherness time and makes homework a fun family affair.

    • The second option includes some screen time: interactive family games such as a family karaoke contest or a dance competition that will get even dad grooving, and an even lower-key variation includes a family movie and pizza party.

    • The final option is going cold turkey, no screens involved, just pure adventure and family fun.

  • If you can't beat them, join them

  • The easiest way to make time for your teens (and catch up on a little work yourself) is to suggest a night at the “office” with your family. This means a trip to your favorite coffee shop with everyone armed with his or her own project (homework).

  • My teens and I gather in a favorite window booth and spread out our computers and books. I purchase hot drinks all around and we happily sit together for over an hour and work on our projects, occasionally glancing up to ask for help or to share something humorous with the table. My teens love this once a week ritual. We bond and get a little work done at the same time. Even my 6-year-old joins us. She reads or draws.

  • Share the screen

  • If it is cold and wet outside and the family is game for inside fun, challenge your teens to an interactive karaoke or dance competition. Let your teens choose the song. You’ll be surprised at how much your kids will enjoy kicking your butt on the dance floor. Or, if your family is more musical than coordinated, surprise your teens with a faultless rendition of one of their favorite songs during a home karaoke competition party.

  • If your entire crew is in the mood for a more low-key evening in, have your teens select a movie and create a family movie and pizza party. Enjoy the movie together (you can set limits on movie rating) while eating pizza and then indulge in a make-your-own-sundae bar for dessert.

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  • Play electronic free!

  • For the more adventurous (once your teens have accepted the idea of family time), sign the entire family up for a weekend sports class. Choose something slightly exotic and out of your box. Try tennis, scuba diving, rock climbing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or sailing — whatever you’re brave enough to attempt.

  • A day on the lake spent learning to sail is an incredible way to bond. Everyone will have at least one skill that they excel at, whether it’s memorizing the various sailing knots, steering the boat or a fast recovery after purposely tipping the boat. When all of the family members are novices, it’s fun to learn a skill together.

  • You can make family adventure weekends a regular part of the familial routine. Try booking off the last Saturday of each month for a new family activity. Let each member of your family take turns choosing the Saturday adventure (you can set budget and time limits).

  • Even if it happens only once a week, defying the modern trend and unplugging your family for a few hours, will leave everyone happier and more connected.

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Melissa Mix Hart has a BEd degree and a MA degree from the University of British Columbia. She is a mother of three daughters.

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