Nowadays, it’s easy to fall into a technology loop for people of all ages. Our phones are addictive. They are built that way.
In fact, a new study by OnePoll shows six-in-10 parents in America spend more time on their electronic devices than their kids do. And guess what? Kids can really suffer as a result. It might even impact their brain development—and have lifelong repercussions. So, many parents are now seeking ways to escape technology and reconnect with their kids.
“What if I was to tell you that a game of peek-a-boo could change the world?” asks seven-year-old Molly Wright, one of the youngest-ever TED speakers on the video we’ve embedded below. Take a minute and watch how this little Wunderkind breaks down the research-backed ways parents and caregivers need to get their noses out of their gadgets in order to support children’s healthy brain development. (If you’re a parent, you might need to grab a tissue first.)
I’m not crying, you’re crying… okay, back to the poll.
Survey shows parents seek to escape tech and reconnect with kids
On average, parents spend nearly five hours a day on electronic devices, compared to the less than four hours they spend on meaningful activities with their kids, according to that survey of 2,000 parents in the United States.
Most parents (80%) say they own three electronic devices or more, with the majority of their kids (81%) owning at least two electronic devices, which, according to researchers behind the study, highlight the enormous presence of technology in households. Only 2% of their kids do not own any devices. Yikes!
What can parents do to break the tech addiction cycle?
The study also reports that most parents realize this is an issue, and that parents are now seeking ways to escape technology and reconnect with their kids this summer. But how are American parents seeking ways to escape technology and reconnect with their kids this summer? It’s not as simple as just wanting to break free. It turns out parents and kids alike might have to be a bit more intentional about it all.
I’ll use my own father as an example here. He loves watching sports. And with modern technology, he is able to keep track of multiple games across multiple genres on multiple devices. It’s actually pretty remarkable to watch him shift his attention between the TV, his iPad, and his iPhone—simultaneously. He truly knows everything going on in any game at any particular moment. But, if you try to talk to him, he doesn’t always realize that you are there.
So even though I’m a grown a** adult, I’ve resorted to trying things like setting screen-time limits and creating device-free zones for the whole family (much like Jennifer’s daughter, Jeneva too!).
The survey—conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Campspot, an app that helps you find family-friendly places to pitch a tent—shows a strong interest in encouraging outdoor play and engaging in outdoor family activities for the summer as well.
This includes camping (of course) and hiking trips, which does genuinely emerge as the most popular choices by parents and kids alike, followed by picnics and visiting amusement and water parks.
Nature, it seems, is good for both your brain and family bonding
By far and away, according to science, the most effective way for parents to reconnect with their kids and disconnect from electronic devices is to spend more time outdoors and in nature.
The American Psychological Association says spending time in nature has a number of positive psychological effects “including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.” Basically, one day in the forest surrounded by greenery has the power to change the worst of moods.
American parents agree, says the survey, that outdoor activities foster communication and connection within the family. It also creates lasting memories that help a family bond.
Is there an app like AirBnB for camping?
So, how can you use your gadget to get away from gadgets? Check out apps like Campspot, which we’ve covered before and really like, or Hipcamp to make a campsite reservation. Need a family-friendly hiking loop? Alltrails rates trail difficulty and offers awesome suggestions for hikes in almost any area. And if you’re really hardcore and looking to go off-grid, you can pick up satellite gadgets (like the one we reviewed here) that boost your phone signal and keep you connected with the urban world in case of an emergency.
According to the parents who took the survey, camping trips are the most popular summer activity. Even more specifically, it shows that nature walks, campfire cooking, fishing, and setting up tents have the most positive impact on their children’s personal development.
Parents report that they also noticed a positive shift in their own parenting style when outdoors. Seventy-two percent responded that they’re more able to focus more on family time, while more than half admitted to feeling more relaxed and laid-back in such environments.
In this tech-dominated era, disconnecting from electronic devices may seem like an uphill battle—and maybe it is—but parents can rise to the occasion with a little help from the sea, sand, forest, and mountains.
Who knows, maybe if I schedule a glamping trip, I could even pull my dad away from hockey.
In this age of screens, what are your tips to connect with your kids’ analog style? We want to know. Head over to our social media and give us a shout.