Because it’s time we all unplugged and reconnected to real time…
Is your partner too busy gazing at his mobile to make eyes at you? Are your kids more into playing with iPads than each other?
Screens, apps, programmes… digital devices have wormed their way into every area of work and play – and that might not be a good thing. Could it be time your household had a digital detox?
1. A friend tells you about a new sci-fi series their whole family’s loving. Do you…
a) Yawn. No, you don’t have Netflix. No, you’re not getting it anytime soon. The end.
b) Take note. Last time you tried to watch something ‘as a family’, everyone wandered off…
c) Humour them. You spanked that series in one sitting while the kids were upstairs playing Grand Theft Auto.
2. You and your other half think Tinder is…
a) Best prepared in advance. Picking downy seed heads at the end of a dry summer has become something of a family ritual. Aaaaaah, nature.
b) Something Ray Mears prepared in advance for all 13 episodes of his BBC series, and the eight he recorded for ITV. All that snow – it’s enough to make you shiver in your slankets!
c) Hilarious. How else would you all know that your youngest’s Teaching Assistant has a Hollyoaks tattoo and fancies herself in ski gear?
3. On your trip to a hip new vegan joint your partner takes a seat by a neon heart wall light. Do you…
a) Melt. It’s the little things that keeps the sparks flying. A couple of hours gazing into each other’s eyes and talking about everything and nothing follows.
b) Cringe. This place is trying to look like the Queer Eye guys’ apartment HQ but you could’ve bought all these fixtures from the panel ads on your mum’s Facebook account.
c) Seethe. He’s blocking the light to YOUR part of the table AND went ahead and ordered that brown jerk sauce that no amount of filtering can prettify. A 24-carat Instagrammable flatlay opportunity ruined!
4. First to the ‘much-needed minibreak’ pool, you notice a jet of jacuzzi bubbles sparkling in the early morning sun. Do you…
a) Exhale deeply and smile to yourself. Little moments like this are what makes life so special.
b) Make a mental note to work it into your TripAdvisor review; some comments are SO light on detail.
c) Holler to your partner so you can both snap it, filter it and share it to your streams. #weekendvibes #mylife #followme
5. On a family trip to town you bump into a friend you haven’t seen since high school. Do you…
a) Spend a lovely half-hour hearing what they’ve been up to in the intervening years while your kids entertain themselves playing keepy-uppy.
b) Make a conscious effort not to mention their ex who their sister’s boyfriend tagged in your workmate’s holiday pics.
c) Wonder what they’re doing in the middle of town when they checked in on FB at the soft play with a bunch of mum mates just half-an-hour ago.
6. The summer holidays are on the horizon. Will you…
a) Flick though your scrapbooks of summers past. There’s nothing like the kids’ funny sketches and pressed flowers to remind you all of treasured trips away.
b) Raise it in your family WhatsApp group. It’s SO hard to get everyone in one room these days to discuss plans.
c) Consult Twitter. There’s nothing like ol’ hive mind for getting recommendations, and now you’ve got that ‘family blog’ side-hustle going, you might even get a few freebies!
7. What’s playing in the family car right now?
a) The soundtrack to the last musical you saw together – you must have played that CD a hundred times!
b) Spotify – streams right from your phones. Isn’t technology magic?
c) Something the kids are learning for Musical.ly. They’ve got the moves down but the lip sync’s a nightmare.
8.) Your kids think Snapchat is…
a) The whole conversations you can have while you’re playing snap. Aren’t we crazy?!
b) That really fun app that lets you puke rainbows and hide zits behind baby deer freckles.
c) Kind of weird since the redesign. It’s like coming home from school to find their whole street has been refurbed.
Seriously?! How?! Your unplugged lifestyle is an example to us all. Remember though, life is about balance. According to the British Psychological Society, “digital literacy is considered a highly important skill for children”; the odd stint of online research or age-appropriate networking will make sure yours don’t fall behind.
OK, so technology is fixing a few family issues, but could it be creating new problems? Research from Oxford University suggests moderate screen time has no negative impact on adolescents’ wellbeing, but keep it in check to make sure your family’s habits don’t become unhealthy. Blue light emitted from digital devices has been found to significantly impact on sleep quality, so make sure the whole family is switching off at least two hours before bedtime.
Ooof. You love your digital devices, but they could be harming your kids’ development and family relationships. Digital detox required! A recent US study suggests opting for screen time over non-screen activities is driving unhappiness in teenagers, while British research into the habits of ten- and 11-year-olds found an increased risk of psychological difficulty in those who watched more than two hours of TV each day. And let’s not forget that inactivity, easily clocked up as you surf your feeds and catch up on TV viewing, is twice as deadly as obesity. Set timers to switch off screens and get moving.
Changing Behaviour: Children, Adolescents and Screen Use, Dr Gemma Taylor
A Large-Scale Test of the Goldilocks Hypothesis, Andrew K. Przybylski, Netta Weinstein
Attenuation of Short Wavelengths Alters Sleep and the ipRGC Pupil Response, Lisa A Ostrin, Kaled S Abbott, Hope M Queener
Decreases in Psychological Well-Being Among American Adolescents after 2012 and Links to Screen Time During Rise of Smartphone Technology, Jean M. Twenge, Gabrielle N Martin, W. Keith Campbell
Screen Time Linked To Psychological Problems in Children, Dr Angie Page
Activity and All-cause Mortality Across Levels of Overall and Abdominal Adiposity in European Men and Women, U Ekelund et al