When we were planning our recent trip to Puerto Rico, my mother asked me if I was going to take my laptop with me.
“No way!” I told her. “This is supposed to be a vacation.” I was determined not to check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or any of the other social networks where I usually spend way too much of my time.
Then my husband asked if I planned on bringing my iPhone. “Of course!” I told him. While I planned to take a break from social media, I would, of course, want to at least have easy access to e-mail. “But I won’t check it often,” I promised him. “Maybe just once a day.”
He laughed because he can go days without checking his personal e-mail and isn’t on any social networks. To him, checking e-mail once a day while on vacation seemed like a lot.
In addition to wanting to unplug and take a break from work, I also felt that it was important for me to put down my smartphone and spend quality time with my family in which I wasn’t constantly checking e-mail, Facebook, etc. Also, now that my girls are getting older and will soon have phones, I want to be a good role model. Specifically, I want to send them the message (but not via text!) that life happens even if you don’t post about it on Facebook or tweet about it.
Over at Common Sense Media, Regan McMahon writes about how taking a break from technology doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition for parents or kids on vacation. In other words, you (and your kids) don’t have to go cold turkey! You might set rules for your family before you hit the road and try to be realistic. For instance, if it will make a long plane or car trip easier, let your kids play with their iPad.
But once you reach your destination, you might suggest limiting technology to times when you’re back at the hotel. McMahon calls it 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.”
Vacation is just the right opportunity to remember what life was like before smartphones. Remember: you don’t need to return e-mail right away and you can catch up on Facebook once you’re home. Try to enjoy your family time without constantly checking e-mail.
As McMahon writes, “Nothing is sadder than seeing a family pile out of their car at a scenic overlook and watching both kids and parents pull out their phones to text or check email.”
As for me, I did a pretty good job of unplugging in Puerto Rico. I checked e-mail once (or maybe twice!) a day and my kids appreciated having my full attention rather than having to share me with my iPhone. And I actually managed to pick up a book.
What about you? Do you try to cut back on technology when you’re on vacation? Do you set limits for your kids?
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