Finding the Right Tech Balance on Vacation

Dad buried in sand with child holding up a phone to his ear

In today’s uber-connected culture it seems everyone from preschoolers to baby boomers are glued to phones, tablets, laptops, and a whole host of other techno-gadgetry.

There’s certainly a place for that in our busy lives-those tools are necessary components of business, school, and maintaining calendars.

But when we want to go off the grid and treat ourselves and our families to quality downtime and a much-needed vacation, it’s important to create some guidelines for putting away the electronics and tuning into the conversations, memory-making, and fun experiences happening in the moment.

Technology by the numbers

A recent survey by Alamo Rent A Car revealed:

  • Over 90% of parents allow their children to use electronic devices on vacation
  • Of those, 53% only utilize them for entertainment during flights or long drives
  • Dads are more likely to approve the use of electronic devices for their children on vacation than moms (98% vs. 93%)
  • 6% of parents do not let their children use any electronic devices on vacation at all.

So what’s the right number? How can you find that happy medium between our natural pull toward technology and truly experiencing the family face-time that you want?

Here are 7 ways to reduce your family’s tech time on vacation:

1. Set boundaries

Put limits on tech time without banning it completely.

Some parents allow technology during car and plane rides only. Others establish specific tech-times during the day – such as when young ones are napping or in the evening when you’re back at the hotel or beach house.

2. Lead by example

It’s hard to look your kid in the eye and say “no electronics!” when you’re checking email or taking work calls during family time.

Make the family boundaries your boundaries, as well.

3. Make technology part of the fun

Put technology to good use by letting kids take charge of mapping out your activities and travel routes ahead of time using theme park apps (which show line waits, etc.) or Google Maps.

The Postino app allows you to create and send postcards from the road – no stamps required. Or encourage your kids to make a vacation play list to keep everyone entertained while on the road.

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4. Go “old school” with games

Board games, cards, or even charades can get your kids engaged in an all-in kind of way. (Who knows – they may become family favorites!)

5. Do the things you can’t do while on your phone

Take a go-cart for a spin, go swimming, organize a game of pick-up basketball, try horseback riding, hiking – or even parasailing and zip-lining, if you’re brave enough.

6. Let them be snap-happy

Put your kids on a mission to chronicle your family vacation in photographs.

Let them use their devices to capture key moments and then upload the photos to a site like SnapFish to create a memory book you’ll cherish.

7. Don’t make anything set in stone.

In parenting, in life, and especially on vacations – things happen.

When we set rules in stone and are unwavering, we can suck the spontaneity out of what should be a “let go and have fun” time. Don’t be so rooted in rules that you miss out on unexpected fun.

Final Thoughts

Technology can be a great tool to connect us in our everyday lives, but it has the potential to stop us from fully enjoying vacation time with family and friends. With the right mindset, planning, and boundaries, you’ll be off on your next adventure ready to experience a magical, memorable time with your kids.

If you’ve relied heavily on technology to get through family vacations, you might experience some pushback from your kids as they adjust to these new guidelines.

If you need more discipline strategies that work to diffuse those power struggles, I’d love for you to JOIN ME FOR A FREE ONLINE CLASS!

In one hour, I’ll teach you how to get your kids to listen–no nagging, yelling, or reminding required. With these tools you’ll be well on your way to having a fun and enjoyable family vacation!

Happy traveling to you, my friend, and if you ever need us, we are here for you!

Title image: Olesia Bilkei/ Shutterstock

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About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions® and the best-selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on The Doctors, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.