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Always catching up but missing out?

Family playing on gadgets

How long do you spend in front of a screen? We partnered with Google to find out from Mumsnetters how much time on average they spent using gadgets surreptitiously reading AIBU. If you're a smartphone or tablet fiend, one thing is for sure – the results show we're all in the same boat.

Where are you reading this right now? Maybe you're in the playground? Or at softplay? Or perhaps you're at home where every member of your family within eyeshot is on a gadget of some kind?

Our recent survey* in association with Google came up with some interesting results about how children and adults are using tech. Sound a bit like you?

Are screens a distraction from family life?

We've all done it – found ourselves watching a video on YouTube or been caught up with a discussion on Mumsnet when we should have been focusing on our kids. Being physically present and emotionally present (by which we mean actually talking to our children) are two separate things. But how much of an issue is it really?

  • 60% of Mumsnetters admit they look at their screens fairly often during the day.
  • 13% say they look at their screen ALL the time.
  • 63% admit they want to spend more time interacting as a family instead of everyone in the room being on their phones, tablets or PC.

But when it came to pointing the finger, nearly half of our survey respondents (45%) said the problem lay not with them, but with their partner, who was more distracted by their screen than they were.

Kardashians gif

Whoops, I did it again

Whether it's glancing at a phone in the playground or quickly checking emails at softplay, a whopping 59% of parents said they found themselves being distracted from what the kids were doing by something they'd seen on their screen. And more than 80% said they had ended up looking at stuff on their screen that they hadn't originally intended to.

I still haven't found what I'm looking for

We all love being thought of as the fountain of all knowledge but, as any parent knows, children do have a knack for coming up with the most extraordinary questions. As parents of future Einsteins, we're constantly being quizzed on the most thought-provoking issues, from where the moon goes during the day, to time travel.

Curious child

In our survey, 70% of parents said that when their child asked them a question they didn't know the answer to, they turned to Google. Although we can totally empathise with the 18% who candidly admitted they took a stab at the answer and just hoped it was correct. And don't get us started on all the “why” questions.

Busy lives

When asked to tell us about an average family day, unsurprisingly, the most popular word parents used to describe theirs was “busy”. “Chaos” and “hectic” also featured heavily. Natch. And what was considered by our respondents to be the most frustrating time of day? Getting the kids ready in the morning. (collective groan)

Be one of our Google Home product testers Google Home gadget

But when given the opportunity to seize or create a treasured family moment, it seems most of us would go old-school, unplug and play a game with our children.

If you're one of the people who would like to redress the balance and include some good old-fashioned fun with your kids then you should apply to be one of our Google Home product testers.

We've partnered with Google to allow you to test a device that will help you to be screen-free at home. Google Home is a hands-free way to enjoy your favorite music, catch up on the news, check the school run traffic and – critically – answer the crazy questions your children keep asking you!

The Screentime vs realtime: digital consumption in modern families survey was conducted between 13-25 April and gathered 1,131 responses.