Happy digital-free Christmas!

By Rosemary Roscoe

I must admit that I was a little sceptical at first of the techniques advocated by decluttering guru Marie Kondo for reorganising the wardrobe  – but her methods really do work!  Instead of rummaging through a chest of drawers playing lucky dip as to what you pull out, she recommends folding underwear and tops lengthways and then arranging them into neat little packages in the drawer. That way, with everything, positioned side by side rather than in layers, you can see what’s inside a drawer at a glance – so simple yet effective!  Marie Kondo’s “joyfully decluttering” techniques and many more useful tips for managing a ‘smart home’, especially in the run-up to Christmas, are featured on a daily basis on our Instagram Account.

Robot AILooking ahead to the New Year is HRF’s much anticipated Experts’ Meeting in February entitled ‘The Home in a digital age’. The main focus will be on how new technologies can aid rather than replace people and relationships within the home. How much influence, for example, should smart devices be allowed to have on children? Could robotic voices one day replace those of parents, starting innocuously with instructions such as ‘wake up it’s time to get ready for school” but ending up controlling the way children think and behave? It’s a ‘Brave New World’ scenario that could easily come about with the increasing tendancy to converse with computerized voices such as ‘Siri’ on mobile phones.

I know one savvy couple who are clued-up about managing technology well in their home. They limit their children’s use of the internet using the ‘Screen Time’ app with parental controls.  Once the time is up, for example for social media, you receive a notification that you’ve reached the limit and can choose to be reminded to get off the app in 15 minutes, or ignore the limit for the whole day. However parents can take control by adjusting the amount of time and shutting down a child’s access to the internet once their allowance is used up. The threat of having their allowance curtailed is enough to keep their children concentrating on their homework instead of being distracted by their devices  – and  good habits are encouraged by setting them tasks to complete and rewarding with additional screen time. Dad has also set up the internet in their home so that if anyone attempts (unsuccessfully) to go on a blocked site, he is alerted to the fact on his computer!  What is noticeable is how happy and outgoing their children are, chatting openly instead of switching off from family life during the holidays and disappearing to another room for hours to watch something on their tablet. After all Christmas is about spending time with family and friends.

A very happy and peaceful Christmas!

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