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Family Matters

Take the Device-Free Dinner Challenge!

A resolution worth making this holiday...

There's nothing like the holidays to reconnect with friends and family over a great meal. That is, as long as everyone's not texting, Tweeting, Snapchatting, and otherwise glued to their phones and other mobile devices. That's why Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology, launched the #DeviceFreeDinner challenge. And there's no time like the holidays to give it a try:

Make a commitment. Decide as a family that you are all going to try your best to keep electronics away from the kitchen or dining room table. The site even offers a customizable agreement you can all sign.

Create a parking space. Place a basket or box near the table (or designate a shelf) that everyone can put their devices in right before they sit down to dinner. The Device Free Dinner site offers a "Devices go here" sign you can print out.

Start talking! Once you've gotten the distractions away from the table, figure out what to talk about. Common Sense Media has partnered with The Family Dinner Project to help. The website offers fun dinner games you can play, conversation starters, recipe ideas, and even how to handle challenging conversations.

Know the stats. Besides connecting with your kids, there are lots of reasons why you might want to go device free at the dinner table such as better nutrition, better academic performance, fewer behavioral problems and, for older kids, a lower risk of substance abuse, according to Common Sense Media. In fact, 92 percent of parents think it's important to talk to their children during mealtime, but 58 percent are worried that electronic devices prevent that from happening, according to a poll from the organization. 

Keep it going. Of course, this isn't just about the holidays. Maybe Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza will help you start having dinners without devices-but it's certainly a New Year's resolution worth keeping. "Our devices keep us connected, informed, and engaged, but dinner time is an important time to just say 'no,'" explains James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media . "By taking the Device-Free Dinner challenge, families will gain important family time and set an example for kids that we all need to carve out face-to-face conversation time in our lives."