16-02-2017 | | By Paul Whytock
Walk round any shopping mall and you’ll see parents pushing their beloved offspring in buggies with the child totally absorbed in the computer tablet or mobile phone they are playing with.
Is this a good thing? Not according to some recent research where 2000 parents were questioned by OnePoll in a study commissioned by Discover Ferries. The overwhelming conclusion was technology is ruining family time together.
As a journalist I get scores of surveys and polls ping into my desktop. Most are about electronic industry trends but this unusual one caught my eye. Apparently 90% of those parents surveyed reckon electronic gadgets get in the way of the family spending time together.
So let me ask one question. Going back to that youngster in the buggy totally fascinated with the electronic gadget locked in their grasp, how did it get there? Did they pop into the Apple Store and lash out £500 for a phone or tablet. Of course they didn’t. It got there because the parents find it an easy way of keeping the little darling quiet while inflicting the mind-numbing tedium of shopping mall trips on them. No wonder so many youngsters get hooked on the technology habit. And it’s a life style habit started by the parents.
So back to those 90% of them whingeing about how technology spoils family time together, I blame them for starting it.
In my view what parents should be doing is first of all taking responsibility for just how much technology time their sprogs are allowed and secondly considering just how many wonderful advantages the microchip has provided younger generations during the past twenty years.
But before looking at some of those incredibly beneficial microchip breakthroughs lets just see a few more of those don’t-blame-us parental survey results.
How about this one: More than 50% of parents surveyed said they struggle to keep the dinner table a tech-free zone, often having meals where at least one member of the family is on their phone. Unbelievable!
Or this: 86% admitted there are times when everyone is at home, but separately watching TV or playing on their phone or computers. Off buttons?
But what the survey did not explore is just how many advantages the microchip has provided the younger generations and families in general. There are tens of thousands of examples but some stand out as stellar. The Internet. We all know the panic when that fails in our homes and offices. Medical electronics. Look at the diagnostic advantages of MRI scans for example. Automotive and industrial electronics and of course home entertainment in the form of smart TVs. These are just a few.
So what exactly is this analysis of what seems like dysfunctional and socially inept families trying to say?
Well let's go back to the sponsors of the survey, Discover Ferries, the body representing ferry operators. It will come as no surprise that embedded in the results of the survey are comments on how the only chance families get to have some quality time together is on holiday and of course a prime opportunity is when they are travelling to their vacation destination on board ferries.
So does that technology free Utopian holiday dream as suggested by the survey really ring true? Or will it more likely be a case of Costa Blanca bound kids running up enormous data roaming charges on their phones, constant chants of will the French holiday villa have satellite TV and a router, screams of terror when it's discovered that somebody forgot to pack the phone charging adapters and can we Skype grandma when we are in the pool? I definitely think so. And don't tell me parents wont be completely happy to let the little darlings play on their iPads if it provides a spot of quality siesta time for them on the sun lounger.