Put your phone down or face alienating your kids

Phones are great, but not all the time

It’s probably not hard to imagine a kid distracted by their phone over a family dinner, but according to a recent survey it’s actually often the parents with their eyes glued to a screen, and their kids having to ask them to put their phones away.

In a poll of over 2,000 11 to 18-year-olds in the UK, carried out by Digital Awareness UK and the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, 14% said their parents were online at meal times and 82% felt that meal times should be device-free.

And it’s not just meal times that are the problem. 22% said mobile use in general had stopped their families enjoying each other’s company and 36% had asked their parents to put down their phones at some point.

Of those who asked a parent to stop using their phone, 46% claim their parents didn’t, and 44% felt ignored and upset.

Dialing down our smartphone use

All of which paints a pretty bleak picture for mobile use among families, and suggests we may need to be more aware of how much we’re using our phones in the company of others – and how that use is affecting them.

You might not see it as a problem – and indeed in a separate survey of 3,000 parents only 10% did, but with 43% of parents claiming they spend too much time online it’s not hard to imagine this would be affecting family life.

Of course, it’s a two-way street, and in research carried out by the same groups last year 72% of pupils said they were online between 3 and 10 hours a day, with the figure rising even higher on weekends, and 47% worrying that it was impacting their sleep.

So maybe we all – parents and children alike – need to remember to put our phones away from time to time, great as they can be, and enjoy the company of the people around us.