WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Gmail; I’m sure you know most of these networks and applications. I’d put my money on it and I don’t think I’d be wrong in too many cases. All of them help us to communicate. Some of them keep us updated with everything that’s happening around the world at any time while others, like WhatsApp, enable us to remain in constant contact with the people around us. What do they have in common? They all constantly draw our attention to our mobiles. Have you ever thought that this is getting out of hand? Because, after all, real life is what occurs beyond the screen.
In a recent study conducted by Norton (Symantec) on more than 7,000 parents in Europe and the Middle East, focusing on our use of mobile phones and the challenge this entails when we have children, 41% of them acknowledged that their children had told them off on occasions for spending too much time on their mobiles or for using them in inappropriate places such as at the table. In another British study, more than 70% of the children surveyed wanted their parents to spend less time on their mobile phones and more time with them, while one in ten said their parents preferred to be on their mobiles rather than talk to them. Without a shadow of doubt, this should be a cause for reflection.
We can’t expect our children not to be connected to their screens all day long if we can’t even put down our phones when we’re at home with them. Such is our dependence on them that even major companies have taken the opportunity to capture our attention and launch advertising campaigns to encourage us to change our attitude. This is the case of IKEA. In its latest campaign, the Swedish giant showed us that we know much more about celebrities’ lives than those of our families, that we know more about the news on social media than our partner’s dreams and aspirations or our children’s favourite pop groups. They proposed keeping mobile phones well away from Christmas meals, either stored in a DIY box or as a centrepiece. I think the idea is an excellent one, in keeping with other previous campaigns that encouraged family dinners.
Although it may seem surprising that adverts by large companies should be reminding us of how we use our mobile phones too much, distancing ourselves from everything that takes place away from the screen, we celebrate the fact that they’re doing so. Other endearing examples are Toys "R" Us and Famosa, which encouraged us this Christmas to share a few moments playing with our children and spend more time together, because the present is as fleeting a stage of life as their childhood. As for using mobile phones over lunch, I loved the deal proposed by Frankie & Benny’s, the British restaurant chain; children ate for free if their parents locked up their mobiles while they were seated at the table.
There’s always time to change our habits, so I encourage you to sign up to these initiatives. Be the first to set an example to your children. If you need a few reasons, here are five, although the list could be very long:
- Few, very few, times is there anything so important that you have to be constantly connected.
- Life seems better without a screen in between.
- You’re at the table, with the family, having lunch or dinner and you need both hands!
- You should be more aware of what’s happening around you.
- Nothing can replace looking at them in the eyes.
Now you know, we all have a new year’s resolution: to turn off our mobiles and connect to the whole. Will you join us?