Families are characterised by individualised routines, including routines of technology (non)use and physical activity. In the study the relationships between both activities were analysed. The informants were members of Polish families meeting two conditions: carrying out regular and sustained physical activity that involves all family members living together; and implementing (common and/or differentiated) media technology regulation practices that also involve all family members.
The following research questions were posed: Why do families opt for digital regulation? What are the characteristics of their regulation practices and what role does regular physical activity play in them?
In order to get answers to those questions, a study was conducted with 30 Polish families diverse in terms of demographics, including type (full and single-parent families), number, age, gender of children, age and education of adults, type of work, place of residence, economic situation etc. Data was collected using in-depth diadic and individual semi-structured interviews, supplemented by the completion of a questionnaire about each family member. The data obtained was analysed thematically.
Results indicate that the main motivations for the introduction of technology regulation was a strong sense of loss of time to digital technology, entailing weakening family relationships and individual losses. Some of the regulation practices were tailored to adults and children, and some applied to all – the latter mainly based on physical activity as a substitute for technology use. The source of practices’ origin varies, but they were united by a belief in the naturalness of regulation, arising from deep needs. According to families, while physical activity can successfully replace digital activity to build family well-being, the reverse process is counter-productive. This is because it does not give family members that level of health, satisfaction and, above all, a sense of connection. Being physically active together allows families to regulate technology use and build close relationships and strong bond that are intended to be present now as well as future-oriented.