Busy parents keep track of kids via technology

Busy parents are increasingly keeping track of their kids via new technology as family time is squeezed, according to a new study.

Busy parents are increasingly keeping track of their kids via new technology as family time is squeezed, according to a new study.
The study for National Family Week was carried out amongst 5,000 mums and dads and shows the extent to which family time is being squeezed. A third of parents said the gloomy economic climate has taken its toll on family life. One in ten parents have been forced to get a second job to make ends meet, for instance.

One in five parents admitted the best method to keep track of their child’s whereabouts is via social networking sites like Facebook. Some 20% of parents claim they stand a better chance of talking to their child via technology.

More than half think their children are more concerned with their mobile phone, laptop and social networking than family life, according to the report.

Nick Henry, Founder of National Family Week which runs from 30th May – 5th June said:  "It’s inevitable that children get preoccupied with technology and it’s only natural that they forge their own friendships and social groups as they get older. Having to contact your children and immediate family through texts, emails and social networking sites to track them down is just a consequence of modern life.

‘’It could be argued that twenty years ago it would be harder to keep track of the family throughout the day as so few of us were contactable like we are now.  Advances in technology have had other advantages such as allowing families to communicate over great distances, brought young and old together and helped to prevent feelings of isolation.”

Some 43% of parents said when they do try and plan a family get together it’s hard to try and pin everyone down – which bothers two thirds of the parents polled.  More than three quarters of parents believe that family life in the UK has suffered at the hands of technology, according to the study.

Of the parents polled, 17% said that mobiles phones and particularly texting had an impact on cherished time with the family and 16% blame the TV as the biggest intruder on family time. One in ten families polled sit down for a meal together just once in a typical week.

Nick Henry says: "National Family Week understand that it’s sometimes difficult to spend mealtimes together but the benefits of doing so are well known and lead to a happy, stable family environment.

‘’Small things like eating breakfast together as a family, discussing the plans for the day ahead are fundamental for a balanced family life.”

The study found that 37% of parents polled insist that their child does not bring their mobile phone or any gadgets to the dinner table; although 21% think it’s harmless.

In total the typical family in Britain spends less than two and half hours of quality time together in an average week, compared to over four hours a week as per the result of a similar study by National Family Week in 2010. 

Some 54% of parents said that day to day chores and errands were the biggest disruption to family life, followed by long working hours. More than three quarters of parents think that many people have lost decent family values like eating at the dinner table, having a Sunday lunch and chatting without the TV on.

But the findings also revealed that one in ten families eats take-aways a couple of times a week and more than one in twenty families eat microwave ready-meals up to four times a week. Half of families eat out just once a month.

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