Parents across the UK agree that technology is taking over their lives and is damaging their children. Individuals are being urged to unplug on Sunday 26 June 2016 in celebration of the second annual National Unplugging Day in the UK.
National Unplugging Day is asking all individuals and families to put down their smartphones, tablets and computers for 24 hours to experience life unplugged.
Parenting experts warn that digital devices 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 activity.
The leading parenting website MyFamilyClub have carried out a study with over 2000 parents from across the UK which had some striking statistics and found that the average parent spends up to 5 hours per day on a smartphone. Typically their children are spending similar times using screens with 80% of children spending 4-5 hours per day on digital devices and with 15% of children spending in excess of 6 hours of screen time across various devices.
Nearly all the parents surveyed (87%) agreed that technology is damaging to their children’s childhood and nearly all the parents surveyed (94%) wanted the tech industry to help educate them and offer guidelines for safe usage. The statistics also show that more than half of parents (51%) would like to go back to the days of no technology or smartphones and a life less complicated.
The survey also discovered that 41% of parents agreed that family times are ruined from digital distractions and 42% of parents said they use technology to calm their children down or to stop family arguments.
Parenting expert 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 more than a third of parents (37%) agree that communication with their children is being harmed by today’s technology.
As smartphones and advances in technology 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.
Dr Mark Silvert, Medical Director & Consultant Psychiatrist said: “With the evolution of the internet and smart phones, families can now often be found in the room together but not actually spending any real time bonding or sharing experiences. With modern families comprising of two full time working parents, it can be common to find both parents glued to their laptops or phones and despite wanting to spend more time with their children they are pulled in the direction of work via technology. Work does not end when you leave your office anymore. I fully support National Unplugging day for the health and wellbeing of families throughout the UK.”
Johnson adds: We are encouraging people to unplug and engage in life without a digital connection and be present for their 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.”
National Unplugging Day recognises the value and importance of technology in today’s society whilst trying to encourage people, especially families and young children and 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 Sunday 26 June MyFamilyClub is offering tips and advice to families who want to enjoy technology free family time.
** 2217 parents were surveyed during April and resulted in the statistics above.