The press really seem to have it in for Millennials (the generation currently aged 21-34) don’t they? All we ever seem read about are the problems of this particular age-group, including how addicted they are to their technology.
But what if the smartphone addiction problem wasn’t ACTUALLY with the Millennials (and with their younger cohort, Generation Z now aged 7-21) but with US, the older generation? What if the problems of our ‘tech addicted’ children can be firmly laid at our door with our poor role-modelling around work:life balance and our lack of boundaries around technology?
Well, our children appear to think so! Seven in 10 UK children believe their parents are ‘constantly glued‘ to their mobile devices, with a quarter of kids feeling their parents definitely have double standards about the whole phone/technology issue.
And it looks like they’re right. A quarter of all the parents surveyed admitted that on a family day out or holiday they (and their child) will have their mobile devices with them at all times. So much for family time.
A further piece of Nielsen research around the use of smartphones during mealtimes (that perennial family battleground!) also lays the blame firmly at the Gen X (aged 35-49) and Baby Boomer (aged 50-64) doors, highlighting that THEY in fact are the ones using technology the most while eating.
Our own research on the digital habits of adults attending our digital detox retreats certainly backs this all up. A whopping 62% of the adults surveyed said they EVEN reply to emails and texts and scrolled through social media while on the loo!
How can we expect our children to be growing up with good onscreen:offscreen balance if we are showing them such a poor example? Time and again evidence has shown that if children grow up in houses where adults smoke or drink heavily they are more likely to adopt the same habits in adulthood. It’s not rocket science to expect that the same is happening to this current generation growing up watching their parents unable to put down their phones even at mealtimes and on family holidays.
So for National Unplugging Day this Sunday, let’s not make it all about the kids. Let’s focus on parents and adults setting the example. Let’s show our children that the ability to regularly put down and step away from screens to engage in the offline world is an important and enriching life skill. And let’s definitely all agree to stop using our smartphones on the loo!