Over the next few months, many families are planning road trips or
other kinds of getaways to take advantage of long summer days and school
vacations. And in those spaces between destinations, it’s tempting to let
electronic devices entertain us rather than spend time looking out the window
or people watching at the airport. In particular, if you’re traveling with
tweens or teens, they will likely want to be attached to their devices any time
they aren’t fully entertained by their surroundings.
But near-constant connectivity not only makes it significantly more difficult to soak in the nuances of one’s travels and make unexpected observations but also puts a damper on conversations with one’s travel companions. So before packing suitcases and heading out the door, it can be helpful for families to establish a few ground rules for their gadget usage.
This isn’t to say that no device should ever be used while traveling. It’s important to be flexible but also set a goal to enjoy experiences in the moment rather than be preoccupied by a screen or document everything we notice through our phones. After all, devices can also be used to download maps or histories of the places you're visiting and encourage research on topics that are unique to your destinations and worthy of further exploration.
Regardless of the parameters you establish as a family, it’s
important to talk with your children before your trip about device usage
expectations. You may want to rule out screens during meals but allow them for
certain long stretches of your journey. And perhaps most importantly, make the
rules consistent for everyone. If your teen has to put away the smartphone,
avoid checking work email yourself. This will allow everyone to take advantage
of all they are experiencing through their travels and maybe even forge greater
connectivity as a family along the way.