I don’t blog nearly as much as I used to but still my mobile phone plays a big part of each day and rarely does a day pass without photos taken, tweets posted or Facebook updated. Social media is as much a part of my day as making a cup of coffee and Addy is pretty used to seeing me on the phone or taking photos of things out and about.
It is easy though to get caught up in technology and to lose the really special moments and not enjoy quality time as a family. More and more of us seem to be bringing gadgets to the dinner table and eating with the TV on and without sounding really old that just wasn’t done in my day ….ok that sounded really old!
So in an effort of us all to reclaim some quality family time the clever folks over at MyFamilyClub are encouraging families and individuals to switch off for one day and take a break from technology on 28 June 2015.
That’s right a whole 24 hours unplugged….queue sweaty palms and palpitations from many of us I am sure, but there is good reason for this. Parenting experts warn that digital distractions are harming relationships, stopping the young from developing face-to-face communication skills and teaching children that disappearing into digital devices for hours, is a healthy and acceptable activity.
The leading parenting website MyFamilyClub.co.uk have carried out a study with over 6,000 parents from across the UK which has some striking statistics, finding the average parent with a smartphone, uses it 240 times a day – on emails, texts and social media. That’s equivalent to four hours a day stranded down the rabbit hole that is the internet.
Typically parents’ first click on their phone between 7-8 am with20% of parents clicking on before 6am and 22% of parents making midnight their last click at night.
Half of the parents we surveyed (47%) are logging into Facebook or other social media before doing anything else – our eyes are glued to our phones even before we get out of bed or to attend to the kids!
Scary stats or what?
Gemma Johnson CEO and Founder of MyFamilyClub.co.uk says “As a parent I experience the struggle trying to juggle work and family life and the additional demands of existing in a digital world. We all lead busy lives but it is so important to lead by example with our device usage, boundaries are set by the parents first We want to encourage the nation to put away their digital devices, unplug and pledge to spend time doing something different with their children such as going out for a bike ride, going the park, learning a new activity or taking a walk in the woods.”
Johnson adds: We are encouraging people to unplug and engage in life without a digital connection and be present for our children. I’m urging all individuals to check how much they are using technology and look at the impact it is having on those around you. I certainly didn’t realise how much time I was spending on my smart phone until my oldest son pointed it out, this is why this campaign is so important to me.”
The statistics also revealed that over half of parents sleep next to their smartphone and the survey concludes that parents are ever increasingly showing the signs of smartphone addiction.
As smartphones invade our daily activities, parents are increasingly less present and available for their children and mental health officials are very worried on the long term effects this may have on our children.
Leading Psychologist Dr Kimberley Young who runs the Internet Addiction Clinic believes parents need to be aware of the effects technology can have on children from birth. Dr Young comments:
” Children have access to the internet almost from birth now. They see their parents playing on their mobile devices and they want to play too. Sometimes I think advice on internet use should be part of antenatal classes. “Don’t leave your iPad around because if you do, and children see all the pretty colours they will want to use it too. It’s difficult, because having a device can also be very useful in terms of having a reward, having a pacifier. But if you don’t get the balance right it can be very dangerous.”
The National Day of Unplugging recognises the value and importance of technology in today’s society whilst trying to encourage people (especially families and young children, the connected generations who have grown up with ever-present technology), to be more mindful of their digital usage. This day is not intended to be a one-off, but rather a starting point to encourage people of all ages to embrace a healthy lifestyle by regularly setting aside time away from their digital devices.
To set families up for success during the National Unplugging Day on 28 June, MyFamilyClub is offering tips and advice to families who want to enjoy technology free family time. Individuals and families are invited to get involved with the campaign sharing what they plan to do when not using technology on this day by entering a host of competitions in the lead up to the day and / or uploading a photo to MyFamilyClub’s social media platforms using the following hashtag #GoGadgetFree #Unplug2015
I shall be giving it a go and seeing if it makes a difference to my time and parenting style for the day and would love to know if you’re thinking of going ‘techless’ for the day? It may be a success for me or it may be the longest 24 hours ever!