TODAY   |  December 02, 2012

Digital diet: Is the desire to be connected making us miss out on life?

Mom-of-two Lori Leibovich put herself on a “digital diet” to pay more attention to her kids. She said that putting gadgets away during family time was important to creating boundaries with technology. “It’s something I struggle with, and I think a lot of parents struggle with all the time,” Leibovich told TODAY’s Erica Hill.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> "today's moms" iphones, plaque berries, tablets, laptops, you name it, the gadgets seem to be with us and we're always using them. is that desire to be connected actually making us miss out on life? one mom decide d to cut back in what she called her digital diet.

>> i get up usually around 6:00 and the first thing i do when i wake up is check my e-mail. it's by my bedside.

>> reporter: for lori , moerp of two, it feels like every waking moment she is attached to her gadgets.

>> i work all day in front of the computer and then i come home and i often am checking in at work even after i'm at home.

>> reporter: according to a gallup poll , 27% of americans feel they spend too much time on their cell or smartphone.

>> i would be at the playground and i would have one eye on the monkey bars and one eye on my phone. it was becoming such a huge part of my life, and i could it tell that it was interfering with my family life .

>> reporter: even tv shows are poking fun at our obsession with it technology.

>> what is that?

>> can we get through one day tech-free?

>> give me that.

>> no way.

>> reporter: so how hard is it to step away from our gadgets? lori decided to find out, going on what she calls a digital diet. the goal to stop using all electronic devices while on vacation with her kids.

>> i really wanted to make sure that we were together as a family, and i told my kids, if you see mommy with her phone doing anything other than taking your picture, take it away from me.

>> reporter: lori 's kids started enforcing the rule, no e-mail, no texting, no social media . with positive results.

>> we spend more time with her and we got to show her the things that we are doing more easily.

>> reporter: and being unplugged made for a happy family vacation.

>> they were probably just really excited to be with me without having to vie for my attention. when you look up from your screen you realize how much you do miss whether it's smells or sounds or sights and, in my case, it was, you know, my children.

>> the executive lifestyle editor of "the huffington post ." nice to have you both with us this morning.

>> thanks.

>> lory, you survived clearly because you're sitting here.

>> yes.

>> you made it through.

>> yes.

>> post vacation, how is it going? are you able to keep some of the rules in place?

>> i want to be honest, it is a struggle, and after we came back from vacation, i went back to work, and my work at the huffington post involves being online a lot. however, i did really pick up some really important things during the digital diet which was that i now in my life, even when i'm working, i do not have the phone near me during meal time, bedtime or bath time and those are the rules i set for myself and that's worked.

>> i'm sure your kids notice. kids really do -- i nknow if we try to hide the phone at one point, they'll call me out. mommy, mommy, this is what i need.

>> they want up attention. you are dividing your attention between your gadgets and your children and you're not parenting mindfully. you are missing key moments, little things that might be really important, you are missing them, and your kids know that they're competing with an electronic thing for your attention and that makes them feel bad, can impact how they teal about themselves and can impact their relationship with you. you notice the positive difference in your interaction with children.

>> it can happen with anybody. people all sitting at dinner together and everybody is on their phone. what can you do, though, realistically because in this 24/7 world a lot of us have to be connected, people who work from home . so is there a specific amount of time or rules that we can sort of follow?

>> i think what lori is saying is really important which is set the expectation fmt you're working from home and your can kids are there, you want to say, i have to work from this time to this time. and at this time i'll be free to spend time with you. or dinner time -- you know, family dinners are important. put your gadgets away. make sure you give some full, undivided attention and set that limit. start with yourself and be aware.

>> parents shouldn't feel guilty about needing to take that time.

>> to take time with their gadget? i think our work lives and home lives have started to, as we all know, interact with each other in a way that's difficult. what i try to do with my kids is i don't just say, hey, just a minute, i'm doing something, and act busy. what i say to them, this is what i'm doing right now. i'm sending one e-mail so that i can put the phone away, and they really appreciate that, i think, knowing what i'm doing.

>> and do you find when you do that, you are more specific and purposeful with the technology, do you find you interact more and better with your children?

>> i do as long as the devices are away. again, it's something i struggle with and i think a lot of parents struggle with all the time and the key is to be mindful of it. we spend so much time worrying about our kids and how much technology they're using and ingesting. we need to be much more findful of how we use it and how that impacts them and that's what i've tried to do.

>> such a great point. nice to have you both here this morning.