Is technology killing family life? Foresters urge parents to give their children a digital detox

The use of technology and the question of whether it is potentially damaging society is something that is currently high on everyone’s agenda, with an explosion in the amount of research looking at the negative implications from its overuse.

With experts and studies saying that children, in particular, are suffering from over exposure of technology – with depression, stunted development skills and a risk of serious health issues – it appears something needs to be done to redress the situation.

One organisation that is encouraging parents to be more pro-active in their own, and their children’s use of technology, is Foresters, the international financial services organisation.

Last month saw the UK launch of Tech Timeout™– where families are encouraged to have a daily digital detox in a bid to reconnect with each other. Supported by Foresters, the initiative is aimed at helping families spend more quality time together, as well as help their health and well-being, simply by switching off devices for an hour every day, for a week.

Rebecca Bell, Project Leader from Foresters explains: “While there is little doubt that technology plays an important part of all our lives, there are fears that extended use by children can have far reaching affects including lack of developmental skills and even depression”.

This is a concern echoed by many organisations:

  • A recent study from the National Literacy Trust* revealed that fewer children actually read in their spare time, with one in five saying they feel “embarrassed” to be caught with a book. Those who did actually enjoy reading were more likely to read above the expected level for their age.
  • Last month the National Association of Head Teachers and the charity Family Action were reported** as drawing up an advice leaflet telling parents to turn off their mobile phones and laptops etc and spend some quality time with their children. This comes amid fears that children’s development is being stunted by parents prioritising mobile phones and television over traditional family conversations, meaning children do not develop proper speaking and listening skills at a young age.
  • Last year, a leading expert claimed that children are becoming addicted to using technology, with some even suffering from depression as a result. Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman also cites from a string of published studies suggesting links between prolonged screen time and conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Ms. Bell says: “This research is just a snapshot of the very well documented studies that say the overuse of technology can have real emotional, physical and developmental affects on children.

“The Tech Timeout challenge is an excellent way for families to reconnect, as well as showing children that they don’t have to use technology all the time in order to have fun.

“We are inviting parents to pledge their support for this initiative and take a daily scheduled break from their electronic devices for one hour every day, for a week.”

Mums, dads and even children can sign up to the campaign - which is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK - at www.techtimeout.com – as well as get useful tips and advice.

Ends

*http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24387523

**http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10307853/Parents-told-turn-off-phones-and-talk-to-your-children.html

***http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-19870199

Further statistics and information available: http://news.cision.com/foresters-uk/r/foresters-urge-digital-downtime-to-reconnect-with-families,c9473549

CONTACT:

Rebecca Bell or Laura Wareing, Member Network, Foresters on: 0208 628 3664 or email: rebecca.bell@foresters.co.uk or laura.wareing@foresters.co.uk

ABOUT FORESTERS:

At Foresters we believe in enriching the lives of our members, their families and the communities they live in. We’re member-based, family-focused, and community spirited.

Our products benefit both your family and your community. We champion the well-being of families through quality financial products, unique member benefits and inspiring community activities.

We share our financial strength with over one million members across the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Throughout our 135-year history, our purpose has been to enrich the lives of members, their families and communities. The priorities remain today and will guide our future.

As an example, our work with Cash for Kids in their 2012 Mission Christmas Appeal helped over 250,000 children to have a better Christmas and granted £5.3m in cash, gifts and toys to local children.

Forester Life is responsible for funds under management of over £2.8bn* and is part of Foresters, the international financial services organisation. 

Internationally, Foresters has over £11bn** funds under management and has been assigned an 'A' excellent rating by A.M. Best.*** 

Safeguarding our members' interests is at the heart of what we do. Being financially strong and responsive, with sound governance and continuing professional service have always helped us to protect our members' benefits.
 

*As at 31 May 2013

**As at 31 March 2013

***An "A" (Excellent) rating is assigned to companies that have a strong ability to meet their ongoing obligations to policyholders and have, on balance, excellent balance sheet strength, operating performance and business profile when compared to the standards established by A.M. Best Company. A.M. Best assigns ratings from A to F, A and A being superior ratings and A and A- being excellent ratings. In assigning the ratings for The Independent Order of Foresters (Foresters) and its subsidiaries Foresters Life Insurance Company and First Investors Life Insurance Company on July 3, 2013, A.M. Best stated that the outlook for all ratings is "stable", which means they are unlikely to change in the near future. See ambest.com for the latest ratings.

Tech Timeout and the Tech Timeout logo are trademarks of The Independent Order of Foresters.


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About Us

At Foresters we believe in enriching the lives of our members, their families and the communities they live in. We’re member-based, family-focused, and community spirited. We champion the well-being of families through quality financial products, unique member benefits and inspiring community activities. We share our financial strength with over one million members across the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Throughout our 140-year history, our purpose has been to enrich the lives of members, their families and communities. The priorities remain today and will guide our future. As an example, our work with Cash for Kids in their 2014 Mission Christmas Appeal helped nearly 300,000 children to have a better Christmas. The whole campaign raised over £9m and involved 2,660 Foresters volunteers. Together with other charity partners we helped over half a million disadvantaged children in 2014. Forester Life is responsible for funds under management of nearly £3.3bn* and is part of Foresters, the international financial services organisation. Internationally, Foresters has over £15.7bn* funds under management and has been assigned an 'A' excellent rating by A.M. Best.** Safeguarding our members' interests is at the heart of what we do. Being financially strong and responsive, with sound governance and continuing professional service have always helped us to protect our members' benefits. *As at 31st December 2014 **An ‘A’ excellent rating is assigned to companies that have a strong ability to meet their ongoing obligations to policyholders and have, on balance, excellent balance sheet strength, operating performance and business profile when compared to the standards established by A.M. Best Company. In assigning Foresters rating A.M. Best stated that Foresters outlook rating is ‘stable’, which means it is unlikely to change in the near future, assuming Foresters financial strength is maintained and operations grow. A.M. Best assigns rating from A++ to F, A++ being superior and A and A- being excellent ratings. This rating was assigned on 2nd July 2013. Our International Head Office is located at 789 Don Mills Road, Toronto, Canada M3C 1T9. DAC Ref No. 2014272/FM/OT 04/16

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Quick facts

• Last year, a leading expert claimed that children are becoming addicted to using technology, with some even suffering from depression as a result. Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman also cites from a string of published studies suggesting links between prolonged screen time and conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
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• Last month the National Association of Head Teachers and the charity Family Action were reported** as drawing up an advice leaflet telling parents to turn off their mobile phones and laptops etc and spend some quality time with their children. This comes amid fears that children’s development is being stunted by parents prioritising mobile phones and television over traditional family conversations, meaning children do not develop proper speaking and listening skills at a young age.
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• A recent study from the National Literacy Trust* revealed that fewer children actually read in their spare time, with one in five saying they feel “embarrassed” to be caught with a book. Those who did actually enjoy reading were more likely to read above the expected level for their age.
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Quotes

This research is just a snapshot of the very well documented studies that say the overuse of technology can have real emotional, physical and developmental affects on children
Rebecca Bell, Project Leader from Foresters
The Tech Timeout challenge is an excellent way for families to reconnect, as well as showing children that they don’t have to use technology all the time in order to have fun
Rebecca Bell, Project Leader from Foresters