This is a call to action — put away your smart device today as part of our Cyber Break campaign.
From 5pm today, October 15, until 5pm tomorrow spend the time instead recharging yourselves and your family time rather than your devices.
— CyberSafeKids (@CyberSafeKidsIE) October 14, 2021
It’s taken a global pandemic over the past 18 months to refocus our attention on just how important access to the internet is in our daily lives (as well as Facebook’s recent outage, which made headline news the world over and had people refreshing their feeds obsessively, waiting for connectivity to return).
We have needed that access more than ever during Covid, especially during the arduous periods of lockdown where it enabled us to work and learn remotely, keep in contact with friends and family, and find sources of entertainment when so much of our lives were restricted.
It should therefore come as no surprise that studies are showing that we are spending more time online than ever before.
Children’s time online has doubled over the last decade and the pandemic has accelerated that trend. Studies also show that children’s use of smart devices has started at an earlier age.
We surveyed almost 4,000 eight to 12-year-olds as part of our own research which was published last month and found that 93% owned their own smart device, and 84% were signed up to social media and messaging apps, despite minimum age restrictions of at least 13. YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and WhatsApp are the most popular apps with this age group.
Our Cyber Break campaign is not about calling out the internet as a negative force in our lives — on the contrary, there is much to celebrate about it.
There is, however, plenty of evidence to show that it is also pervasive and all-consuming in terms of our time and attention. It can be really difficult to “switch-off”.
We know that apps and games are designed to hold our attention for as long as possible and that this is helping the big tech companies to become ever more profitable.
Technology itself can help us by measuring exactly how much time we spend on social media, gaming or emailing by providing us with reports with our key stats.
But what might have been shocking the first time you saw it, loses its shock factor pretty quickly as it becomes our normal behaviour.
So we want our Cyber Break campaign to challenge this “new normal” by encouraging you and your families to literally switch off your devices for 24 hours and see how you find it.
Take the time to reassess how you’re spending your time online and how much of it is well spent. Consider whether you have a healthy balance between what you do online versus offline.
You might even find you create your own “cyber breaks” — maybe an evening here and there or something that you do more regularly. Ideally, it would form part of our healthy lifestyle habits.
We’ve put loads of ideas on our website to help you plan your time. We’re hoping that it will prove to be time well spent. Certainly, our anecdotal feedback from last year’s campaign was really encouraging.
People enjoyed the challenge and their time out. My own kids couldn’t wait to wrestle my phone off me as we got closer to the 5pm deadline last year. I like to think it won’t be so hard this year.
If you’re struggling with the online/offline balance in your daily lives, here are some simple tips:
- Try to make sure that your phone is not the first thing that you look at in the morning. Make it an active choice to do something else — stretching, meditating, eating breakfast
- Avoid using your phone as an alarm clock (there are plenty of alt