Is technology killing family life?
The use of technology and the question of whether it is potentially damaging society is something that is currently high on everyone’s agenda, with an explosion in the amount of research looking at the negative implications from its overuse.
With experts and studies saying that children, in particular, are suffering from over exposure of technology – with depression, stunted development skills and a risk of serious health issues – it appears something needs to be done to redress the situation.
One organisation that is encouraging parents to be more pro-active in their own, and their children’s use of technology, is Foresters, the international financial services organisation.
Last month saw the UK launch of Tech Timeout™- where families are encouraged to have a daily digital detox in a bid to reconnect with each other. Supported by Foresters, the initiative is aimed at helping families spend more quality time together, as well as help their health and well-being, simply by switching off devices for an hour every day, for a week.
Rebecca Bell, Project Leader from Foresters explains: “While there is little doubt that technology plays an important part of all our lives, there are fears that extended use by children can have far reaching affects including lack of developmental skills and even depression”.
This is a concern echoed by many organisations:
- A recent study from the National Literacy Trust* revealed that fewer children actually read in their spare time, with one in five saying they feel “embarrassed” to be caught with a book. Those who did actually enjoy reading were more likely to read above the expected level for their age.
- Last month the National Association of Head Teachers and the charity Family Action were reported** as drawing up an advice leaflet telling parents to turn off their mobile phones and laptops etc and spend some quality time with their children. This comes amid fears that children’s development is being stunted by parents prioritising mobile phones and television over traditional family conversations, meaningchildren do not develop proper speaking and listening skills at a young age.
- Last year, a leading expert claimed that children are becoming addicted to using technology, with some even suffering from depression as a result. Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman also cites from a string of published studies suggesting links between prolonged screen time and conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Ms. Bell says: “This research is just a snapshot of the very well documented studies that say the overuse of technology can have real emotional, physical and developmental affects on children.
“The Tech Timeout challenge is an excellent way for families to reconnect, as well as showing children that they don’t have to use technology all the time in order to have fun.
“We are inviting parents to pledge their support for this initiative and take a daily scheduled break from their electronic devices for one hour every day, for a week.”
Mums, dads and even children can sign up to the campaign – which is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK – at www.techtimeout.com – as well as get useful tips and advice.
Further statistics and information available: http://news.cision.com/foresters-uk/r/foresters-urge-digital-downtime-to-reconnect-with-families,c9473549