Technology Vs. Family Time
Ever try to point out the sights to a kid engaged in battle on a Nintendo DS or have a heart-to-heart with a teenager whose ears are stuffed with ear buds? Then you know that connecting with kids on a family vacation can be tough if they're plugged into their electronic devices day and night.
We've all become enmeshed with media and technology, but it’s summer break and time to step away from the Blackberry in the interest of having more face time with the people you love.
Here are some strategies from Family Media Management expert, Regan McMahon, for striking a balance between family bonding and electronic engagement:
Leave it at Home: You can't be distracted by what you don't bring. If you’re bringing it in case of emergency, chances are you’ll be able to use one in a hotel or café or even at the home of someone you're visiting.
Use it Wisely: The upside of bringing a laptop, DVD player, iPad, or even an iPhone is watching movies on the plane or in a car and having fun apps to play. This is great for passing the time to avoid boredom, but it's a good idea to set limits about the appropriate time and place for screen time.
Follow the Inside/Out Rule: Tech is OK only back at the house or hotel room and only at night. Daytime is for outside play, adventure, exploring, and family interaction, so leave screens and devices back at the pad.
Share Your Playlist: Make music sharing a fun part of your vacation. Have everyone in the family make a personal playlist on an Mp3 player, and then share it along the way. A great way to develop music appreciation for all generations!
Don’t Miss the Magic: Agree as a family, that outside of fun family photos, no calls, texts or checking email can be done on devices at scenic sites or special moments.
Friendly Fire: Kids get homesick for their friends when they're out of town. Respect their desire to send vacation photos from their phone, chat on Facebook, Skype or FaceTime, but agree on a time that it's OK to do it, like at a natural break time for everyone.
Pack Family Games Instead of Video Games: Kids love playing games. Pack Uno or regular cards which fit easily in a suitcase. MadLibs and Car Bingo are great for the road. Charades is another fun one to get the whole family involved, and it requires no equipment at all. Unplug, and plug into fun with humans!