Parenthood

Modern technology is ruining families' quality time together, according to new research.

A new poll of 2,000 parents has found that the average family spends just three weeks of real quality time together each year, and a measly 36 minutes together on the average weekday.

The survey found that nine out of ten parents think gadgets get in the way of their time together as a family and 86% admit there are times when everyone is at home, but separately watching television or playing on their phone or computers. Seven in ten mums and dads admitted to occasions where they could have been playing or spending time with their children, but were busy on their phone or tablet instead. More than half also struggle to keep the dinner table a tech-free zone, often having meals where at least one member of the family is on their phone.

In comparison, adults spend almost four times as long (just short of two hours a day) watching TV or playing on their gadgets. The research highlighted the fact that children are also staring at a screen of some kind for approximately  two and a half hours every day. As a result, two thirds of parents say holidays and trips away from home are the only real time they get together.

Bill Gibbons, director of Discover Ferries, the industry body for ferry operators, who commissioned the research, said that families who are already struggling to get time together now face extra competition from modern technology and social media,

"Most households will have an array of TVs, computers, smart phones and tablets and it's all too easy to spend our spare time on these rather than enjoying the time with your loved ones."

Parenting blogger Susanna Scott says that the grim statistics aren't surprising with more and more kids online,

"Parents work hard during the week, and holidays can often be the only to spend quality time together. We've started banning mobile devices during our breaks, and when you are having fun together, they kids don't even notice they are device-free."

The poll also found that 55% of parents don't feel they get to spend enough quality time with their children, with household chores, children's homework and long working hours named the biggest barriers. Quality time spent together at weekends only averages out at two hours and 43 minutes, or a total of five and a half hours across the week.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly for those of us who grew up without a mobile device surgically attached to our hand, three quarters of respondents believe that they spend less quality time with their children, than they did with their parents at the same age.

Top ten reasons for a lack of quality time:

Household chores

Children's homework

Long working hours

School timetables

Family members being more interested in their phone/tablets

Children's extra-curricular activities

Children would rather spend their time playing computer games

Children would rather watch TV

Parents working from home during the evenings and weekends

Anti-social working hours

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family time, quality time