For over four years now, we have been researching the use of technology by families, specifically how our kids use technology to learn and communicate. Our latest research looks at how much time we, the adults, and our kids spend using devices and the effects that this has on family life.

Are adults checking their devices too often? The simple answer is yes. Both kids and adults are in agreement with this as 54% of children say this and 52% of adults. At the same time, both kids and adults agree that it’s the kids that spend more time on their devices, 46% and 49%.

It would appear that the parent’s have some bad habits too, nearly one in four admit they answer their phone during meal times and one in three while watching TV with their kids. This makes our kids feel unimportant, at least that what 32% said in our survey.

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Technology is changing our world, whether interactive education, TV on demand or communicating with our friends and family. Its important though that we distinguish between family time and device time and give each other the time and attention that we deserve.

In my family, we have ‘the basket’.  The basket lives in the kitchen and during meal times and at 9pm all our devices are relegated to the basket. This means for those precious moments of our day that we sit opposite each other; we communicate with out distractions and swap our news.

The challenge is clear that we, as the parents, need to set the example to our kids that the devices are super useful, engaging and give us great pleasure, but we need to show them that there is a time to put them down and spend quality time with each other.

Amusingly, I am writing this blog sitting in an RV in Yellowstone National Park, where there is no phone signal, yet both my son and wife are sitting playing a game on their phones competing to see who can get the highest score. It’s a great example of the addictiveness. As soon as I finish writing they will have them confiscated! Tomorrow we’ll go hiking and have a device free day.

I challenge you to set the example and get a phone basket!