Modern technology is ruining families’ quality time together, a study has found.

Almost nine in ten parents say gadgets get in the way of their time together as a family, with 86% saying there are times when everyone is at home, but separately watching TV or playing on their phone or computers.

Seven in ten parents even said there have been occasions where they could have been playing or spending time with their children, but were busy on their phone or tablet instead. More than half also struggle to keep the dinner table a tech-free zone, often having meals where at least one member of the family is on their phone.

The study, commissioned by Discover Ferries, also found the average family spends just three weeks of real quality time together each year, and just 36 minutes on the average week day. In comparison, adults spend almost four times as long - one hour and 55 minutes per day – watching TV or playing on their gadgets. Children are also staring at a screen of some kind for around two hours and 22 minutes a day. As a result, two thirds of parents say holidays and trips away from home are the only real time they get together.

Bill Gibbons, the industry body's director, said: “Families who are already struggling to get time together now face extra competition from modern technology and social media. Most households will have an array of TVs, computers, smart phones and tablets and it’s all too easy to spend our spare time on these. But holidays are a great opportunity for real quality time together as a family, and for some, is the only time they can really sit back and enjoy each other’s company without distractions they would usually have at home."

Going out for meals together was found to be the best way of spending quality time together on holiday, followed by doing activities together, the evening entertainment and the journey there. And almost half of those surveyed said the entire holiday counts as quality time.

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