With the number of media devices in the average UK household now at 11.4[i] it is not surprising that technology is, more than ever, an almost constant presence in family life. Although advances in technology have done wonders for global communication, the use of technological devices in the home is often a solitary activity and we sometimes can be so absorbed in our devices that we become preoccupied from engaging properly with our family, even if we are under the same roof as them!
As adults we are sometimes guilty of becoming too attached to our devices but now children are becoming tech-savvy at an increasingly younger age, playing on digital devices can occupy a lot of their waking hours too. With the number of devices in UK homes increasing year-by-year, it is becoming harder for parents to manage their daily impact within the home and to create time for activities outside of technology. Although computers are a key resource for children’s learning, socialising and playing it is important that entertaining themselves on digital devices is developed in addition to, and not in lieu of, more traditional activities.
Foresters, the international financial services organisation, recognises how all too easy it is for the whole family to become reliant on the digital devices now abundant in our homes, and has launched the Tech Timeout challenge to help families manage their day-to-day use of technology. The challenge encourages families to disconnect from technology, for an hour each day, in order to reconnect with each other.
Despite the ever-improving efficiency of computers, time spent on our digital devices is not always a stress-free experience. Even when our devices are working efficiently we can while away the hours in front of a screen before we have realised it and, when things aren’t working so smoothly, Britons reportedly lose five and a half days a year to slow computers[ii]. It is cause for contemplation that frustratingly waiting for laptops, programs and files to load takes up this many hours in our year. Furthermore, 1 in 3 Britons admitted that slow-loading computers put them in a bad mood for the rest of the day[iii]. Although computers can be enjoyable, educative and necessary devices in our homes, when the use of technology starts to affect our mood and eat up hours in our day it might well be about time to take a break from technology and take some time out to spend doing other things!
To take the pledge and challenge yourself to ‘disconnect to reconnect’ please visit www.techtimeout.com
The Tech Timeout website is an interactive space which promotes discussion around the impact of technology on family life, whilst allowing you to view promotional material on the campaign, share your own ideas on the best way to spend tech-free time and to read Foresters drafted suggestions. Each of the suggested activities has been chosen to support family or community interaction, inspire creativity and fun and to encourage families to communicate more personally with one another whilst they share quality time together.
In the fast-paced hubbub of everyday life, it can be difficult to find a whole hour, as a family unit, in which digital devices are allowed no interruption. However, the Tech Timeout challenge allows you to create a little tech-free sanctuary for your family every day and spend invaluable time together exploring the possibilities of tech-free activity. Committing to the challenge provides families with the perhaps longed for excuse to disconnect themselves from the immediacy of technology. Taking some tech-free time allows them to discover activities which encourage imagination, co-operation and communication in children and, what’s more, show children the fun that can be had outside of technology!
About the Author
Steve Dilworth is MD of the Member Network UK at Foresters, the international financial services (FS) organisation. He has extensive experience within the charity and FS sector, with a First Class Honours Degree in Economics and History and a Degree in FS. He is Chair of Soho Ltd, a subsidiary of Soho Housing Association, and Chairs Bromley Neighbourhood Police Panel. In 2007 he was elected as one of Manchester University’s Volunteers of the Year and in 2012 elected as a Community Champion for the London Borough of Bromley.