An Irish company has found a way of getting children outside without having to chase down Pokémon.

Driven by demand from parents, and research showing how technology can have a negative impact on children, UnPlug is launching Unplug4Kids at the end of the month

The family festival celebrating all things unplugged will be held on August 28 at SPORTCO Gym, Ringsend, Dublin.

Young people are out and about more since the release of Pokémon Go, which uses GPS and a camera to combine the digital realm with the real world.

Some parents are delighted that their children are getting lots of fresh air and exercise, but others want their children to look around instead of burying their heads in their phones.

Co-founder of UnPlug, Chris Flack, said anyone caught using a smartphone at the festival will get hit with a squeaky hammer by the UnPlug police and asked to donate money to their charity partner — the ISPCC.

“UnPlug isn’t anti-tech, we love tech. Our focus is to raise awareness of the overuse of tech and to encourage a tech/life balance encouraging using tech for good,” said Mr Flack.

Model and parenting columnist, Ali Canavan, has worked with the UnPlug team of psychologists and neuroscience experts to develop a programme that she follows with her six-year-old son, James. James still plays Minecraft, but he and his mother have developed a middle ground in which he also spends a lot of quality time with friends and family.

The festival will have a number of activity zones — children from aged three upwards to chop with an axe and saw wood and to build stuff using recycled products and to join fun dance workshops. They can also get fun tips on using technology in a healthy way.

Ali Canavan and son James supporting Unplug4Kids. UnPlug aims to raise awareness of the over-use of tech and to encourage a tech/lfie balance. Picture: Peter Varga
Ali Canavan and son James supporting Unplug4Kids. UnPlug aims to raise awareness of the over-use of tech and to encourage a tech/lfie balance. Picture: Peter Varga

Co-founder of Family Friendly HQ, a website promoting Unplug4Kids, Jane Flood, said parents needed to focus on their children.

“Your attention is the greatest gift you can give your children. We know that we often need to reply to messages from work, but we need to remember we are role models for our children and if we give time to our phone children will see it as more important than them,” said Ms Flood.

The festival will be followed by a series of Unplug4Kids parenting workshops starting in October.


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