THE BLOG
27/05/2014 09:46 BST | Updated 23/07/2014 06:59 BST

How Does Today's Technology Bring Families Back Together?

This week (26th May to 1st June) marks National Family Week. Backed by all major political parties and over 200 national and thousands of non-for-profit organisations, National Family Week is designed to bring families together through a programme of fun activities.

This work is more crucial than ever.

UK families now spend less than eight hours together each week. Weekends are best with an average of two hours and twenty minutes on both Saturdays and Sundays given over to family time. But during the week the amount of time shrinks to just 36 minutes on average each day as families juggle work, commutes, household chores, school runs, play dates and evening clubs.

Technology is often cited as getting in the way of family time. Rather than spending time together family members spend the majority of their time in separate rooms glued to small screens, watching and doing their own thing. But this is not necessarily the case anymore. The latest technology is geared to unite rather than divide.

There's been a lot of talk about the return to the living room. 91 percent of UK adults view TV on the main set each week, up from 88 percent in 2002. However, this is the 1950s living room with a twist.

TV schedulers no longer dictate what we watch and when. Family viewing 2014-style is much more democratic. Catch-up TV services, like Freetime viewed through a smart TV set, encourage family members away from catch-up on their tablets and smartphones and maximise precious family time by allowing us to rewind and watch as a group what we may have missed.

Today's TV sets also offer each family member a degree of personalisation they would previously only have got from their own personal devices and account settings. Using facial recognition technology they are intuitively able to offer programme recommendations tailored specifically to each family member.

Some sets also allow you to free content from your smartphone or tablet by swiping it up onto the main TV screen for all the family to enjoy; while some even let you communicate with other family members by sharing video memos and messages between your TV and your smartphone or tablet. Saying 'your dinner is in the dog' has never been easier or more personal.

Joking aside, technology is no longer the great divider. Instead, a range of clever and intuitive features are transforming today's living rooms into digital hubs around which the whole family is returning to congregate.