A time to be tech-less

Modern technology is understandably seen as a distractor, regardless of age
Gareth McKeown

I FULLY appreciate the importance of technology to the modern professional and workplace, which you will know from reading this column. As Northern Ireland's leading independent provider of telecoms solutions, at Rainbow we eat, sleep, breathe and strive to ensure our customers are the most connected.

Yet summer is now upon us so the eternal quandary of how to keep the kids entertained during the school holidays is back to torment us. Regrettably, this is where the default, all too often, is to revert to the tablet or the console and ‘plug them in' for a few hours.

Modern technology is understandably seen as a distractor, regardless of age. Whether it's a Whatsapp group chat or something we have seen on Facebook, these images, videos or conversations can play on our minds all day, affecting our ability to carry out daily duties or important client work.

Recently, there has been talk of mobile phones being banned from schools, which is especially prevalent in the light of two recent studies. One from the World Health Organisation which has classified video game addiction as a mental health condition with treatment available on the NHS, the other accusing social media giants of ‘exploiting children' with the constant stream of clickable content and persuasive design.

I respect Bill Gates for raising his children relatively tech-free. I am of the generation when kids would spend hours and hours over summer in the park, garden or street with friends, kicking a ball or making best use of that most wonderful tool…their imagination!

Of course, it is the scope of the human mind that has allowed technology to develop and subsequently vastly improve how we do business. Gone are the days when fax, typewriters and desktop phones were the height of sophistication.

Today we can video conference different time zones, access any digital file in the office from your mobile phone, and collaborate on a document or project that is halfway around the world.

All of this is of course fantastic and has made the modern working environment a much more efficient place, but how has that elusive work/life balance been affected? With this heightened connectivity comes, well, heightened connectivity, with clients, suppliers and colleagues able to reach us any time of the day or night, no matter where we are.

So, as the sun continues to shine – he says optimistically! – are you ready to update your answerphone message, activate your out of office or even turn your work phone off, or at least to silent?

Distraction is not necessarily a bad thing with all the doom and gloom in the news from around the world but let us try to limit the nature of these distractions, especially when it comes to the next generation.

Always easier said than done but family and friends should be the only distraction by the pool, so remember to try and unwind this summer, and let's enjoy the sun, while it lasts!

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