Technology has introduced a societal change like no other in the past couple of centuries.
New, and ever sophisticated, technology has developed at such a speed over the past few decades that children today are growing up in a world immersed with electronic devices, computers and tablets that their parents were only exposed to in adulthood. This change is so significant that experts have begun to describe each recent generation through how naturalised they are to the digital world. Marc Prensky uses the analogy of immigrants and natives to indicate just how much technology has revolutionised the world we live in. “Digital immigrants”, describes the portion of the population for whom technology ‘boomed’ in adulthood and who have had to adapt to technology as a major feature in their lives. Alternatively, “Digital natives” are the most recent generation of children who have been immersed in a technological world from birth, and for whom the use of electronic devices will come somewhat naturally with little or no need for introduction or education.
But with technology now holding a habitual place in our lives, are we unwittingly developing an addiction to our digital devices?
Although the startling evolution of technology and the internet over the past few decades is still a source of wonder and amusement for many of us, despite the occasional grumble at its presence most of us have embraced it as a now integral part of our lives and are perhaps more reliant on it then we realise. Through multiple digital devices we are now ‘plugged in’ for most of our waking hours, both within our home and whilst on the move, and have sub-consciously developed a cherished relationship with our digital devices.
Technology is a constant presence in our lives and the compulsivity with which we find ourselves checking our devices is verging on turning us into “digital addicts”.
As more and more day-to-day tasks are moved online, the knowledge that most of us are always obtainable digitally (whether through our phone, television or computer) is exploited as a key line of communication by marketers and advertisers hoping to catch our attention. Communicating and being communicated to through our digital devices has become the norm, a necessity of living in a digital world. Whilst the convenience of communicating digitally is great, we have become so used to the 24/7 buzz of technology that we have forgotten the joy of occasionally being disconnected.
It is with this in mind that Foresters has launched the Tech Timeout challenge, to help families carve out time in their day to have some tech-free time together. The challenge encourages families to pledge to take just an hour out of their day, for a week, for some digital downtime.
The wealth of technology available to us has undoubtedly made our lives simpler allowing us to communicate globally, interact socially and source almost any information at the touch of a button. However, sometimes it seems the virtual world housed in digital devices threatens to become more absorbing for our children, or indeed ourselves, than the real one. By pledging to put down all digital devices for an hour a day, Foresters hopes to help adults and children alike moderate their daily attachment to technology and find the time to communicate more personally with one another, enjoying some quality tech-free time together as a family.
To take part in the challenge and take some time away from technology, please visit http://www.techtimeout.com
The Tech Timeout website is a great forum for sharing with other families your experience of, or thoughts on, the challenge. It allows you to pledge to take the challenge, access a list of Foresters drafted suggestions of tech-free activities, view video testimonials from other families taking part in the challenge and share your own suggestions for filling your tech-free time.
So if you feel encouraged to challenge yourself to a Tech Timeout before you embark on your challenge (or once you have done so) and you are indulging in some time on the internet, head to the website for some inspiration for what to do in your next little time out from technology.
About the Author
Steve Dilworth is MD of the Member Network UK at Foresters, the international financial services (FS) organisation. He has extensive experience within the charity and FS sector, with a First Class Honours Degree in Economics and History and a Degree in FS. He is Chair of Soho Ltd, a subsidiary of Soho Housing Association, and Chairs Bromley Neighbourhood Police Panel. In 2007 he was elected as one of Manchester University’s Volunteers of the Year and in 2012 elected as a Community Champion for the London Borough of Bromley.