“I’m taking a break from my phone, emails and all social media for a while” announced Ed Sheeran recently. In fact, the popstar is jumping off the social media bandwagon for a whole year. “I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes”.
I get the feeling he isn’t alone….
Having spent more time at home with your children (and other people’s), over the Christmas break, you have likely reflected on quite how big a presence devices and gadgets now have in children’s lives. Alarmingly, according to market research firm Childwise, children aged between five and 16 now spend on average six-and-a-half hours a day looking at screens.
So if, like me, you want to re-evaluate your family’s relationship with technology, instead of making the usual half-hearted New Year resolutions about eating less chocolate or getting fitter, why not plan a digital detox for your family?
You could of course flip the router switch on the odd day, but if you really want to ditch the gadgets and get back to basics – from building fires, climbing trees or simply (brace yourself) having a meaningful conversation, then here are some suggestions for a family-friendly digital detox break.
North Wales is a great starting point – wide open spaces waiting to be explored, patchy phone signal and some great adventure attractions, from high-speed zipwires, giant underground trampolines and an inland surf lake when you need some help with entertaining your troop.
Here’s our starter for five great places to stay. No Wifi is a given….
To the hills
This TV-free mountain cottage offers a great opportunity to unplug from the real world. The simple interior mirrors the simple pleasures you can enjoy – mountain walks, lakeside rambles with trees to climb, small bridges to cross and stones to skim. The walk along the Fisherman’s Path from Beddgelert is a good way to spend an afternoon – kids of all ages will love the stepping stones, riverside pools and rushing water. Then home to spend the evening by the fire – scrabble anyone?
How great to walk to the bottom of your garden, across the boardwalk and emerge onto a fantastic sandy beach? This beach also happens to be Red Wharf Bay on Anglesey – where Maurice Wilks, the man behind the original Land Rover, first imagined the iconic design.
Bwlch y Ffos offers a chic beachside retreat – think driftwood, restful colours, log fire. Children can explore the shoreline looking for their own beach finds, or toast marshmallows round an evening campfire on the beach watching the sun dip behind the hills beyond.
Seaviews & Sunsets
Sitting on a hillside above the small town (well, large village really) of Nefyn is Fron Fawr. As you drive down the lanes & by-ways of the Lleyn Peninsula to reach your destination, you genuinely feel the clock slow. Rural villages, stunning coastline and some rather great beaches await.
Walk along to the Ty Coch Inn at Porth Dinllaen where the kids can play in the waves and build sandcastles while you enjoy a drink.
Head back to Fron Fawr for views of the sun setting on the horizon whilst the children charge around the large garden. There is a TV in the house but for DVDs only.
If you have an image of a Welsh cottage in your mind, chances are that it matches Y Bwthyn Ty Du. Any property that you have to cross a small bridge with a stream running under it to reach the front door is going to be a hit with your children!
Set down a two-mile lane in the heart of the Lleyn Peninsula, surrounded by rolling hills, wildlife and sheep. You can explore the network of footpaths from your door or the nearby towns & villages of the Lleyn – watersports at Abersoch, the castle at Criccieth or book in for a boy’s own Bear Gryll’s adventure at Llanystumdwy.
Hole up on Holy Island
Walk along to the Estate’s farm shop to buy meat reared on the land, or cycle along to the fisherman where you can choose from scallops, crab & lobster brought in that morning. Tymynydd Cottage is in the sought-after village of Rhoscolyn on Holy Island, at the top of Anglesey. There is a gem of a beach, where children can rockpool and explore safely, whilst older children can discover the coastline by kayak or coasteering. Walk up the coastal footpath from the beach to the coastguard lookout – now run by volunteers who love to have a chat and let children have a peek through the binoculars.
Tymynydd is full of character – handcrafted bunk beds for the children, seaviews & sunrises for the adults. Grandparents can happily retreat to the separate annexe.
How to book your Digital Detox
To book your digital detox in North Wales, find a cottage through local letting agency Menai Holiday Cottages.