NEW YORK — The holidays are meant to be a time spent creating special memories to be cherished and looked back on for years to come. However, it’s pretty hard to create long-lasting memories if everyone is staring at their phones. That’s why, according to a new survey of 2,000 U.S. parents, nearly 80% would like to have a technology-free holiday this year.
You may be inclined to think that most parents are frustrated about their children constantly going online, but the survey indicates that parents and adults are just as addicted to their smartphones and tablets. Remarkably, 72% of respondents admitted that they usually reach for their phone before opening any presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
The survey, commissioned by Groupon, also found that 86% of parents have had their kids complain about all the time they spend on their phone. On that note, 53% have missed out on something important with their kids because they were busy on their phone, and 43% said they actually spend more time on their phone during Christmas in comparison to any normal day. Over half (51%) said they check social media more frequently over the holidays as well.
On average, parents will spend four hours each day on their phones over the holidays, which adds up to a mystifying 80 hours for the entire season.
It’s painfully obvious that everyone is spending too much time on their phones, but luckily at least some parents are determined to make a change; 55% are planning a digital device-free holiday dinner this year. Additionally, 31% said they had already banned phones from the dinner table in years’ past, and three in four would love to have a completely social media-free holiday.
Unfortunately, technology has already disrupted holiday get-togethers in the past. Fifty-five percent have had a holiday dinner rudely interrupted by a phone or other gadget abruptly ringing. Furthermore, 64% said there is always that one family member who can’t put their phone down over the holidays, and 47% said they’ve had their entire holiday ruined because of social media. Overall, eight in 10 respondents said they consider digital devices at the dinner table to be distracting and disruptive.
So, what annoys people the most when they log on around the holidays? Respondents absolutely hate it when others brag about their gifts on social media (40%), or when people brag about the places they’ve traveled to for the holidays (38%). Other annoyances include hearing from people around the holidays that never reach out during the rest of the year (36%), social media bragging about holiday experiences (36%), and holiday well-wishing chain messages (35%).
When asked about the top reasons to give the internet a break this year, the most frequent response was spending more time together with family (53%), while talking more among each other (52%) came in second. The top five responses were rounded out with: being more present and engaged (51%), performing activities together (50%), and embracing the festive season as a family (38%).
Perhaps it all comes to numbers, considering the fact that most households are filled with far more technological devices than actual people. The average household holds three devices for every one person, and usually contains roughly 12 devices at any given point in time.
All in all, 85% of surveyed parents would like to be more “present” this year for the holidays. As far as some experiences parents look forward to with their families each holiday season, going to the movies was the top response (52%), followed by holiday concerts (41%), and traveling (40%). Other common answers included decorating the tree (35%), ice skating (35%), and baking cookies (33%).
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.