by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
In celebration of the second annual National Unplugging Day in the UK on Sunday 28 June 2015, individuals and families are being asked to put down their smartphones, tablets and computers for 24 hours to experience life unplugged.
Parenting experts warn that digital distractions 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 and acceptable activity. It is not. And when permanently attached to those devices in public, such as with headphones in or on listening to musing or being on the cellphone, is outright dangerous, and not just when cycling or driving.
According to a study, carried out with over 6,000 parents from across the UK, the average parent with a smartphone, uses it 240 times a day on emails, texts and social media. That is equivalent to four hours a day stranded down the rabbit hole that is the internet.
Typically parents first click on their phone between 7-8 am with 20% of parents clicking on before 6am and 22% of parents making midnight their last click at night. It is therefore no wonder that children follow the example of their parents. On the other hand it must also be asked why a child of eight or nine has to have a cellphone, other than one that can only call a few numbers, as a means of safety and security, such as some of those phones available on the German market.
Almost half of the parents surveyed are logging into Facebook or other social media before doing anything else – our eyes are glued to our phones even before we get out of bed or to attend to the kids!
The statistics also revealed that over half of parents sleep next to their smartphone and the survey concludes that parents are ever increasingly showing the signs of smartphone addiction.
As smartphones 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.
Children, nowadays, have access to the internet almost from birth. They see their parents playing on their mobile devices and they want to play too but this is not (always) a good idea. In the same way the TV is not a pacifier neither is the Laptop, the iPad or the smartphone.
The National Day of Unplugging recognizes the value and importance of technology in today's society whilst trying to encourage people (especially families and children, 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 just 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.
I must admit that in my spare time I also spend far too much time on line, especially on Facebook, but to me, aside from being a communications tool, it is also a new gathering tool, with the information gathered being used to write articles. On the other hand there are times when I just have to walk away from it, turn Facebook, for instance, off and just do something else, be that woodcarving or reading, and in that case reading something that is not connected with my own writing again, such as reading books for review, for instance.