Kids and parents toady are more plugged into the virtual life provided by electronics than the real lives of friends and family members. Tuning out to tune back into reality doesn’t need to be so difficult or boring.

By Hillary Torchin

Have you seen the car commercial where a young adult sits alone at her laptop, lamenting that her parents only have 19 Facebook friends, while she has 687 friends? Meanwhile, her parents are out living it up; bicycling and laughing with real, not virtual, friends. This advertisement struck a chord. How many of us are actually paying attention to the real, important people and moments in our lives? There are so many types of fun and interesting distractions that it can be difficult to tune them all out. To log off of social media, turn off the TV and direct our attention to our children, parents, friends, spouses or pets—sometimes, it seems like it takes a huge amount of effort! Especially when the video is of a cute dog barking out “I wuff you” or one of your friends has (OMG!) updated their relationship status.

Then there are cell phones and applications to keep you downloading games, reading email messages and checking in all over Las Vegas. Have you ever tried having a conversation with a 10-year-old boy when he’s playing Angry Birds? I have. It sounds basically like grunts. Even at a young age, it’s hard to focus when there are so many entertaining alternatives available. It has become such a fast-paced world that we tend to drop everything when we receive an email, phone call or text—even if we’re in conversation, face-to-face, with someone we care about.

We miss out when we don’t tune in. Those “mommy, look at me” moments can be the most special times of our days. In order to feel connected to the important people in our lives, think about the most enriching ways we enjoy communicating with one another. For instance, my honey and I walk together at least three times a week. This hour allows us to reconnect regularly and enjoy our relationship, away from the electronic distractions in our house. A friend mentioned that her special time of the day was spent at the dog park … with her cell phone left in the car. When my kids are trying to tell me something and I’m sitting at my computer, I now consciously turn my chair so I can’t see the monitor and focus on what they are saying.

So tune in and watch the car commercial or animal video on YouTube … just make sure you’re not tuning out anyone important in your life.

Hillary Torchin is vice president of relationship marketing for Steinberg Mediation, a division of Steinberg Law Group. Visit them online at or call 702.384.9664. She is passionate about her family, volunteering and educating the public about the benefits of family law mediation, a custom-tailored, less expensive alternative to litigation.