Transform family dinners and take charge of your health

Picture the scene. A family sat around a dinner table. Each person with a phone in their hand...

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By Justin Robbins

Despite using a mobile phone during dinner being viewed as rude and taboo, it still happens. A lot. And not only by the younger generation. But what if there was a positive outcome of having phones at the table? Consider, for a moment, a phone being a conversation starter rather than stopper. Even better – what if that conversation was about personal wellbeing and building healthy relationships?

Celebrating International Day of Families 2021

The theme for this year’s International Day of Families is “Families and New Technologies”. The focus on health is now more important than ever. Zurich’s latest Future of Work report1 emphasizes on a duty of care for employers to support the wellbeing of their employees. A holistic and preventative approach to health awareness that includes physical, mental, social and financial needs aims to go beyond the workplace and into the home. In fact, it starts at home. Finding ways to support families, to lead a healthier lifestyle together, one that includes a better relationship with technology, is becoming an increasing priority for employers and educators almost everywhere. Families need ways of embracing technology as a tool to support healthy living rather than something that creates ill-health.

From a parent’s perspective, technology can bring additional pressure in the form of new skills to learn for the future, on top of the existing demands of being a modern and understanding parent. For our children, it carries the threat of growing up in a virtual world, missing out on enjoying nature in ways their parents did – only seeing it through a six-inch screen. For both parties, the darker side of technology, including cyberbullying, is an ever-present threat, with 59% of U.S. teens having personally experienced some form of cyberbullying2. Partnering with TrendMicro’s “Internet Safety for Kids & Families program”, Zurich is currently developing an awareness program for young people under the name ‘BrightKidz’. Endorsed by parents, schools and the wider public, covering how to stay safe online, it is a sustainable program to address some of these issues, due to be rolled out later in the year, starting in Switzerland and then globally.

Committed to health for your family

Online health and safety is an area where a strong family network can help, supported by even more extended families – where now three, four, even five, generations co-exist, as a result of people worldwide living longer3. However, the extent of these opportunities and contributions depends heavily on one important factor: our health. There is, however, little evidence to suggest that older people today are experiencing their later years in better health than their parents. Is technology in a safe environment the opportunity that is required to support this holistic 24 x 7 view of taking care of one’s wellbeing? Could today’s generations realize health benefits from digital health tools?


The global digital health market is expected to reach USD 640 billion in 2026 – a six-fold increase from 2020. Adoption of digital health tools has been steadily increasing, with 42 percent of Americans reporting using digital health tracking in pre-Covid 2019. It can be fairly assumed that figure is higher today4.

“Mobile apps and health solutions have grown exponentially in recent years. The opportunity has to be to leverage the technologies of today to support making positive changes that improve our health as we go through our own individual health life journey,” comments Helene Westerlind, mum to twin teenage boys, and CEO of LiveWell by Zurich, whose approach to health is providing a holistic solution covering multiple aspects of health.

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant the traditional physical family gathering opportunities have been somewhat disrupted. From families thrown together 24 hours per day, to being kept apart by lockdown rules, the impact has been widespread. That’s why today, on the international day of families, it is especially critical to celebrate and support family communication. Good family communication is important because families are what we most often turn to for support5.

Health and technology at home in perfect harmony

“I would love to see families having open and supportive two-way conversations, aimed at improving their individual and collective wellbeing, through a tool such as the new LiveWell app,” concludes Helene.

Yet it is still about having a healthy balance to health. So, could we imagine the same family dinner setting we mentioned earlier, with five generations present, enjoying each other’s company and a ‘phone free’ meal, followed by each of them sharing their personal health journey? They might even discuss their favorite recipes found through their holistic health app or come up with creative ideas to help other family members to hit their individual health goals? The gamification aspect of apps, along with the sage words and experience of each generation, may just lead to a healthier family relationship, that with togetherness, drives lifestyle changes with a commitment to improved health of the whole family, one step at a time.