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Tech contributes to fact families spend less than three weeks a year quality time together

Holidays are best option for time together

Modern technology is ruining families’ quality time together, a study has found. Almost nine in ten parents say gadgets get in the way of their time together as a family, with 86 per cent saying there are times when everyone is at home, but separately watching TV or playing on their phone or computers. Seven in ten parents even said there have been 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.

The study, commissioned by Discover Ferries, the body representing ferry operators, also found the average family spends just three weeks of real quality time together each year, and just 36 minutes on the average week day. In comparison, adults spend almost four times as long – one hour and 55 minutes per day – watching TV or playing on their gadgets. Children are also staring at a screen of some kind for around two hours and 22 minutes a 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, which commissioned the research, said: “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. But holidays are a great opportunity for real quality time together as a family, and for some, is the only time they can really sit back and enjoy each other’s company without distractions they would usually have at home.

“We know how precious a holiday is for all families and all our members do their utmost to make the ferry journey the very start of the family holiday experience. Unlike an airplane where families are strapped in alongside each other in front of computer screens, a ferry journey gives families time to stretch their legs, eat a meal together or watch wildlife together. On some ships there are family play areas and time take a few family selfies to remember those moments together”

Responding to the findings BritMums co-founder Susanna Scott added: “While disheartening, these statistics aren’t surprising – more and more kids are 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!”

Going out for meals together was found to be the best way of spending quality time together on holiday, followed by doing activities together, the evening entertainment and the journey there. And almost half of those surveyed said the entire holiday counts as quality time.

Top 10 reasons for a lack of quality time:

  1. Household chores
  2. Children’s homework
  3. Long working hours
  4. School timetables
  5. Family members being more interested in their phone/tablets
  6. Children’s extra-curricular activities
  7. Children would rather spend their time playing computer games
  8. My children would rather watch TV
  9. I have to work from home during the evenings and weekends
  10. Anti-social working hours

Source Discover Ferries

Visit www.www.discoverferries.com –for up-to-date information and news about travelling by ferry.

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Discover Ferries press office, Four Travel

Contact: Arthur Duncan/Debbie Hindle, Matthew Beard

Email: [email protected]   | Tel: 0203 697 4200

Discover Ferries is an industry body representing 11 ferry operators in the UK and Ireland operating more than 75 routes. Its role is to promote ferry travel and holidays and to campaign on behalf of its members and in the interests of ferry travellers. The carriage of freight vehicles is also a very important part of the Discover Ferries’ members’ business.


In 2016, Discover Ferries members carried 38 million passengers and 8.7 million cars as well as 151,360 coaches. Discover Ferries members are: Brittany Ferries, Caledonian MacBrayne, DFDS, Irish Ferries, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, P&O Ferries, Red Funnel, StenaLine and Wightlink. Discover Ferries members serve the Isle of Wight, Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly, Scottish Islands, Ireland, Spain, France, Belgium and Holland.