Why Go Camping?
There are two reasons summer camp can help kids break their habits. The most obvious is that despite the ever-growing reach of technology, deep in the woods, there aren’t many cell phone towers or electrical outlets. Even if kids sneak their phones into camps, many of which have strict rules against phones, those phones won’t last long or be able to do much before they’re paperweights. There’s no better friend to parental control over phones than the laws of physics.
But more fundamentally, camp requires kids to be more social and to be active. It’s worth remembering that many kids love their phones because it allows them to stay in contact with their friends in the first place, and if all the friends they talk to at school are with them at camp, or are away at camp themselves, kids have to work on their face-to-face social skills.
And beyond that, camps are defined by their activities. Even if kids go to camps in the city instead of deep in the woods, they’ll still have a full day of activities to do and new skills to develop. Especially if that’s paired with parental control software, it’ll naturally bring kids to healthier approaches. So how to make it happen?
Off To Camp
First, kids should be involved in the camp. If there’s a program they’re particularly excited about, such as drama camp or math camp, then they’re going to be less interested in their phones and more on board with the rules.
Second, make the rules clear, both the camp’s rules and your own. Kids should know from the start if a camp bans phones, so they can plan accordingly. If they’re worried about staying in touch with friends, for example, sit them and their friends down for a craft project where they stamp and address postcards to each other, so they can send each other a message every day. Similarly, kids should understand that any camp they head to doesn’t magically put an end to the house rules, and you’ll be keeping any limits you have.
Finally, it is reasonable, in places where phones can be charged and a signal can be captured, to allow phones for the sake of safety. Well-designed tools will allow you to, for example, only allow a phone to dial emergency numbers or a set list of other numbers, and will allow access only to emergency or safety apps, such as navigation tools or first-aid instructions. Make sure this is allowed by the camp and also be sure kids understand these are tools of last resort. Kids should also learn to rely on themselves, after all.
Once kids return from a month or two without phones, you’ll have a clean slate to create healthier approaches to phone use. To learn how apps can fit into your approach, sign up for Screen Time!