How Kids Benefit from Disconnecting from Technology – and Why Summer’s the Best Time to Do It
Not too long ago, children used to play outside all day, playing sports, riding bikes and engaging in creative play that didn’t require expensive gadgets or parental supervision. Unfortunately, today, this is far from the case. Parents are struggling to find a balance between their kids’ use of technology for educational purposes and their abuse of smartphones and computers as exciting around the clock babysitting.
American youths currently spend over seven and a half hours a day on their smartphone, computer, television or other electronic device, a study reveals. The study also found some startling behavioral effects. For one, the heaviest media users had a greater association with behavioral problems and lower grades and were more likely to report boredom, sadness or trouble at school.
Because our society has become so techno-reliant, it is near impossible to unplug from our electronic devices during the school year. It is no longer enough to research for a history paper at the local library or study for a math test using hand-made cue cards. The internet and its agents – the smartphone and computer are a must for every student looking to succeed.
Camp however, is one of the few places throughout the year where kids can truly unplug. Replacing study requirements with interactive activities in a relaxed, outdoorsy environment is exactly what kids need to recharge over the summer. Experiencing summertime unplugged provides an enhanced camp experience, with benefits far outweighing the frustrations of mothers unable to contact their boys and girls at any given moment.
Here are some reasons why kids absolutely must unplug at camp:
Unplugging allows campers to fully embrace human connections
Camp is an inherently social environment, but if kids are attached to their tech all day, there is no way they will be able to get to know and interact with their fellow campers and counselors. When they unplug, campers can open themselves up to making new friends and socializing on deeper levels make with other campers. These friendships and socialization skills will carry over to their everyday life after camp and will help them achieve success in many areas of life.
Unplugging gives campers a break from instant gratification
Technological advances have convinced us that we need to see and hear everything as soon as it happens. But this is not always developmentally appropriate for children, who could benefit from taking a break from technology and learning a lesson in delayed gratification every once in awhile. Unplugging lets kids experience life at a slower and calmer pace, giving them time to reflect, solve problems independently and understand things on their own. Unplugging reduces damage and theft associated stress.
Unplugging keeps the camp experience “Rated-PG”
Unplugging also helps camp staff ensure that campers are not exposed to age-inappropriate material streamed on their electronic devices. While we know that your children are well-behaved and well-intentioned, sometimes the away-from-home environment can bring with it a desire to push boundaries and experience things they’d never do at home. Unplugging helps us keep the inappropriate influences at bay.
Unplugging bridges the gap between “the haves and the have-nots”
A quintessential part of the camp experience is a bridging of any gaps between campers from different walks of life. When it comes to technology, this is extremely important. For some, camp is just another yearly expense, while for others, a single summer session is scrimped and saved for with care. Allowing technology into the bunks would undoubtedly shine a spotlight on those who have electronic gadgets – and those who do not. Unplugging is one way for campers to share a bunk on a more level playing field. This way, they can focus on making friends and having fun, instead of on who has the latest tablet and who doesn’t.
Kids can truly thrive when they’re given the opportunity to unplug. With many fun activities replacing demanding school requirements, summer camp is the best place to let go of all the tech devices. At Camps Airy and Louise, we have made the decision to both honor and recognize the camp space as a screen-free zone. The intention of our technology policy is to give our campers the best possible summer camp experience, without the pull and pressures that come with smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices.