How to Plan Your First Device Free Dinner

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July 7, 2017

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.


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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.


Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

This app is listed in the Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
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This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

How to Plan Your First Device Free Dinner an Expert Guest Blog

With students gaining access to devices earlier and earlier, having a device free dinner can be easier said than done. So, how can parents encourage their family to enjoy dinner together on a regular basis without being glued to their screens? We asked 4 experts to share their best tips. Learn how you can make dinner more engaging than anything on a device, how to use your actions to guide children’s behavior, how to create a device free dinner strategy with your kids, and more.

1. Don’t go cold-turkey for your first device free dinner

Weena Cullins, Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist
Weena Cullins headshot
Weena Cullins

Parents truly set the tone for dinnertime behavior. For families who have been device-dependent, start with 1-2 specific device-free days instead of going cold-turkey all week. Maintain a unified stance on checking devices at the dining room door and be prepared with a few topics to discuss in advance to keep dinnertime conversation flowing.

2. Make dinner more engaging than being on a device

Heidi Marzke, Educational Consultant
Heidi Marzke headshot
Heidi Marzke

The best way to enjoy dinner without devices is to make dinner more engaging than anything available on kids’ devices. We like to start with “the day’s high and low” and have each family member share. Doing so inevitably leads to interesting conversations, discussions and debates and before you know it, devices are the last things on anyone’s minds.”

3. Be intentional about having dinner together

Evan Money, Ph.D., Evan Money inc.
Evan Money headshot
Evan Money

Device-free dinners come down to one thing, being intentional. First off, you have to be intentional about having dinner together, sadly most families rarely do that. For example, we chose not to enroll our daughter in an invitation only advanced ballet class, because it wouldn’t allow us to have dinner together.

Secondly intentionality starts with the parents, in the evenings I purposely leave my cell phone in my home office on vibrate. It’s out of sight, out of mind and out of earshot so it won’t interrupt the meal. Your actions speak so loud, your family can’t hear a word you’re saying.

4. Create a device free dinner plan with your kids

Colleen Carroll, Innovative Reading
Colleen Carroll headshot
Colleen Carroll

Families should pass a device basket where everyone contributes their cell phone, including parents. I like Disney’s Circle, which will shut down the internet whenever you program it do so, keeping dinner time wi-fi free. All family members need to be in agreement, so draw up a device-free dinner plan and be sure the kids take part in its creation. Kids should give reasons why this is important so they have plenty of buy-in. Also, what happens if anyone breaks the rules? There should be a consequence that no one wants, like being the dishwasher for the evening.

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