Tips for having travel and tech co-exist…

Family holidays are a great time to recharge and connect with your kids, but connecting can be tough if they’re plugged into their electronic devices day and night. We’ve all become enmeshed in media and technology in our real lives (step away from your iPad, parents!). But school holidays can be a time to unplug or at least limit the time you spend wired, in the interest of having more face time with the people you love.

Here are some strategies for striking a balance between family bonding and electronic engagement:

1. Bring them – with limits

The upside of bringing a laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone 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 decide on the appropriate time and place for screen time.

2. Follow the inside/outside rule

Try something like this: Tech is OK only 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 in the room.

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3. Share your playlist

Make music sharing a fun part of your holiday. Have everyone in the family download a personal playlist to share with the group in the car or where you’re staying. Kids can turn parents on to the music they love. Parents can expose kids to oldies from their era or programme music to fit the holiday locale…

4. Get a local media fix

Instead of individual family members plugging into separate devices for a solo film-viewing experience with headphones, go on a family outing to a theatre near where you’re staying. It’s fun to share the experience as a family.

5. Get off the phone

It would be ideal – but maybe not realistic – to put phones on lockdown. How about establishing a few rules that your family can agree on, such as “No texting during outings”, “Phones are only for taking pictures until 6 p.m.”, “Apps only in the car”, or “Daytime is family time, friends are for after dinner”?

7. Friendly fire

Kids get homesick for their friends when they’re on school holidays. Respect their desire to send vacation photos from their phones or via Snapchat, upload pictures to Instagram, chat on Facebook, or digitally communicate face to face via Skype or FaceTime. But taking a break from texting throughout the day is a good way to be here now; tell kids that if they’re glued to their device, they’re stepping out of the group experience, which shows a lack of courtesy to those around them (the family in “family holiday”).

Agree on a time it’s OK to contact friends – say, on a lazy afternoon when other family members are reading or napping, or after dinner.

8. Pack family games instead of video games

Kids love playing games such as Apples to Apples, Uno, or regular card games – all of which fit easily in a suitcase. 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!

Article by Regan McMahon first published on Common Sense Media.