Picture this: The whole family is sat in your family room watching TV together and your son is on the family iPad, your daughter is on her phone, your spouse is checking their email on their phone and even you have your laptop from work open on your knees.
There used to be a time where watching TV as a family could be classed as a bonding experience where you would avidly watch what was going on and then during the commercial breaks the family would discuss what had just happened and make predictions on what was about to happen. I remember watching ER and as soon as the adverts came on my mum would proclaim “Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Concerns?” and we would dive into discussing the TV episode.
Nowadays we fast-forward through the adverts and it is so easy to watch different shows in the house on different devices that the, albeit limited, bonding opportunities that watching TV provided as a family have gone. Not only that but when we do watch TV, we tend to be doing something else on our mobile devices whether it’s checking Facebook or playing Candy Crush. There are even shows now, such as Rising Star, that encourage us to be glued to our mobile device while we are watching TV.
Now picture this: The whole family is sat around the breakfast table in the hotel room in Italy and your son is on the family iPad, your daughter is on her phone, your spouse is checking their email on their phone and even you have your laptop from work open on your knees. Oh dear. The only thing that has changed is you’re at a hotel room after spending all of that money travelling to Europe and not watching TV. Spending your vacation dollars on a wonderful family holiday in the hopes that you will reconnect as a family is a complete waste of money if you are not reconnecting as a family. To reconnect as a family, you will want to enjoy each other’s company and not compete against mobile devices. Thankfully we have some great tips on how to disconnect while on a family holiday.
Leave the devices at home. If this is too much of a stretch, leave the chargers at home, that way your teenagers will have the iPad for the flight but they won’t be glued to it at the destination and they’ll use their devices sparingly.
Use roaming charges to your advantage. Explain to your teenage daughter what the roaming charges are and let her know that she is in charge of picking up the bill. Your daughter can then decide if she still wants to text her BFF or whether what she has to say can wait until you return home.
Give your teenagers a good reason to ditch their mobile devices. Have a plan in place where you participate in activities the whole family will enjoy so they know what they are giving up their mobile device for. Even if you are having a restful day, play cards or games so that the family is not tempted to pick up their devices.
Set a good example. It is true that 20 somethings and teenagers, especially teenagers, have a bad rep for being glued to their mobile devices. However, parents are just as guilty. That’s right! Now you may not want to hear this but you need to ditch the mobile device as well. I can hear the shouts now of ‘but I have to check my work email’ and ‘the office won’t survive unless they can contact me’. Fine, if you really need to check your work email then schedule a time once a day when you do that and decide how long you will spend. Set the rules beforehand and stick to them. If you are able to leave your work behind, make sure your work emails are not linked to your phone so there is no temptation to just ‘quickly check’.
Only use social media to post updates of your travels. Don’t get sucked into the newsfeed to see what everyone is else is up to – that can wait until you get home. Also, turn off all notifications from your social media so that you are not tempted.
With all of this focus on ‘disconnecting’ I want to take a quick moment to remind you that travelling as a family can really help reconnect you all and so ditching the mobile devices will enable you to foster connections within the family that will last a lifetime.
Family Travel Specialist