Failing to take a technology time out while on holiday could cause families and friends to fall out. One in four (25 per cent) of those who check work communications on holiday admit that checking work emails or calls annoys family and friends, so they either do it when they are not looking or try to finish as quickly as possible. Almost a further third (28 per cent) know that they can only get away with urgent business, as any unnecessary work chat would spell trouble in paradise.
More than a third (39 per cent) of those who check work communications on holiday do not switch off from work because they feel a responsibility to check in, while 28 per cent say they worry that they are missing important information. Men on holiday find it more difficult to switch off from work completely, with 37 per cent checking work emails compared to 28 per cent of women.
Aside from work, we also love our social networking sites, with two in five (41 per cent) Brits “checking in” at least once or twice while on holiday. This goes up to 66 per cent amongst 18 – 34 year olds. While one in ten (10 per cent) of them admit that using social networks is their favourite way to relax, one in five (20 per cent) say they just do it out of habit.
Corinne Sweet, celebrity psychologist, said: “Technology has improved our ability to keep in touch constantly, which is obviously a great thing. However, if you can’t stop yourself logging on or texting and it’s affecting your personal relationships, then you need to think twice. Holidays should give you a chance to turn off and become aware of your behaviour. Try to spend a day offline and more time just hanging out with family and friends, or simply being alone. Holidays should be about recharging your own batteries, not just those of your laptop or smartphone.”
The BT Balanced Communications Diet was developed in response to an international study, led by the University of Cambridge and sponsored by BT, which found that one in three people have felt overwhelmed by communications technology, including texting, email and social networking, to the point that they felt a need to escape it.
To help adults and children maintain a ‘Balanced Communications Diet’, BT identified a “five a day” set of recommendations:
The BT Balanced Communications Diet
Before you can make any changes, you need to understand how you and your family are using technology.
Many families who took part in the research were surprised and at times dismayed by their technology habits. Keeping a log of your family’s use of technology will help you identify good and bad habits and also changes you may want to make.
Location, location, location
Think about where technology is located in the home.
Parents often complained that their children abandoned family time to go on the computer or video game console in their room. Similarly, children reported feeling that they lost out on parents’ attention when they were ‘quickly’ checking up on work in the home office. Keeping computers and consoles in a central location will allow your family to share what they are doing online, or at least all be in the same place while using technology.
Set some boundaries about how, when and where technology is used.
The research showed that rules around technology usage reduced anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. The rules are up to you: try removing technology from the dinner table, organise a family games evening either with or without technology, use parental controls to manage use of social networks or the time spent on the family computer, or agree limits on the number of text messages sent in a day. Just remember, whatever rules are introduced, it’s important to talk them through and agree them as a family – and parents sometimes need just as many rules as children!
Be a good example: teach and demonstrate the importance of balance and safety in the way technology is used.
It’s important for parents to set good examples, so think about your own behaviour. For example, avoid checking your smart phone unnecessarily when with your family. It’s easy for children to pick up bad habits from you. In addition, children are using technology at an increasingly early age and teaching safe and responsible use is vital from the outset, it’s important to make sure your children are taking the right steps to keep themselves safe.
Find your Balance
Don’t be concerned by overly positive or negative hype about communications technology. Every family and individual uses technology differently. We hope that this advice helps you find a healthy balance for you so that you have control of technology and are making the most of all forms of communication whether it’s by phone, email, social media or face-to-face.
A copy of BT’s a Balanced Communications Diet can be downloaded at: www.bt.com/balance.