On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced a ban on carry-on electronic devices that includes tablets, cell phones, and laptop computers on all foreign airline flights between the U.S. and the U.K., as well as several other countries.
The reasons for the ban, according to officials, are said to be linked to possible terror threats. But at that very moment, parents everywhere immediately held their breath in disbelief at one thought: How in the world are they going to keep their kids calm on flights that last hours without a tablet in their trusty carry-on?
As one Twitter user noted, “[I] totally understand the reasons but parents will be tearing hair out without Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig for the kiddies.”
@BBCBreaking totally understand the reasons but parents will be tearing hair out without paw patrol and peppa pig for the kiddies
— Anne (@anneshine33) March 21, 2017
And believe me, I get it.
Have you ever traveled with kids in a small space for more than 10 minutes at a clip, let alone 14 hours? It is ROUGH. Kids are little walking, talking, curious balls of energy, and trying to keep them busy enough to get through a flight without crying or throwing down the mother of all tantrums is a feat of magic on the parent’s part. So, yeah, screens are a godsend for parents everywhere.
But, like one other Twitter user pointed out, “life did exist prior to mobile phone and laptops. I don’t see this as a problem.”
— Tim Masters (@utilitytim) March 21, 2017
Obviously, this guy doesn’t have kids, but he does have salient point about technology and our growing dependence on it. It didn’t even exist all that long ago (at least in the ways it does today), and we somehow managed. When I was a kid, sweating to death on vinyl seats and bored out of my skull on family car rides to Grandma’s house or some fun roadside attraction, we had a million small ways to keep everyone entertained.
My mom would pack lunch boxes with sets of crayons and scraps of paper, a pair if dice, words lists, and small books, and we had an old atlas and some binoculars that my sister and I would share back and forth. We would play games like Eye Spy or 20 Questions. And while these are surely not as exciting as Candy Crush or Minecraft, it passed the time and made our brains think.
But this is 2017, and not every analog family relies on the virtues of Eye Spy to get through a long trip with kids. It takes very little Googling to find amazingly clever travel kits for kids that range in age from toddler to teen and they can include everything from STEM-designed projects a child can put together on a meal tray to silly games meant to entertain and pass the time. Creating a schedule of when to bust out certain toys and snacks can help parents get through the trip, too.
Plus, if screens are an absolute must, then parents can surely flip on an in-flight movie to distract and entertain their kids. It might be eight hours of Master Chef or Dora the Explorer depending on where you’re heading, but hey, at least it is something.
And as a last resort, parents can always pull out the goodie bag trick to bribe other passengers into not getting upset by the company of a small child. (Those always go over well, right?)
The bottom line is this: Yes, flying with kids is stressful. Yes, it can be seemingly impossible to entertain/distract/calm them for hours on end without some kind of a tantrum. But there are ways. If our parents did it, we can do it. And considering the reasons behind this ban sound pretty serious, I’m sure we’ll all find a way.