Three ways to make your Phone help (not harm) on your Family Vacation
I’m not sure exactly when it happened but one minute I was looking at my son crawling across the carpet under my desk and the next minute he was texting to ask if he could stay late after high school. Where does the time go?
I love my iPhone. It is always close at hand for a snap or a tweet or a Facebook thumbs up. As someone who is often on-the-go and away from my desktop computer, access to everything from maps to restaurant recommendations is something I treasure.But somehow I don’t get the same thrill out of watching my kids on their devices. As they get older we’ve allowed them to keep their phones with them on trips but it doesn’t mean that we allow a full-scale eyes-on-devices holiday.
These are three of the things we do to make sure that the phones don’t do more harm than good when we travel:
1. They aren’t phones, they’re cameras: My kids clued in quickly to the idea that they could argue for bringing their phones along on vacations by pointing out that they were cameras. I love photos and especially the ones they take that offer up a completely different perspective on things. We usually give in to the argument but we hold them to it: No texting, no Skype and definitely no gaming. We agreed on the rules early and because they are usually limited to free hotel Wi-Fi when we travel anyway, it hasn’t been too tough to enforce.
2. All phones away at certain moments: There is a real risk when you travel of missing the moments. Because the phones are such great cameras and because I’m often on my own trying to share our experiences with all of you through twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, it can take a really conscious effort to finally put it out of sight. As a family, we call each other on phone overuse. The kids are just as quick as I am to call out, “Phones away!” so that we can sit, take in a moment, enjoy a meal or have real conversations and interactions in the places we’re visiting.
3. Safety first: If you aren’t sure if your phone is a distraction, try to recall the last conversation you had with your child while scrolling through Facebook. The fact is you likely missed most of it. And when it comes to their phone use it is one of my greatest worries. The very device I’ve given them in an effort to try to keep them safe could cause them injury. We talk a lot about how to use the device safely. We limit phone-to-ear contact, lead by example by not texting and driving, and stress the importance of putting devices down while crossing streets. The trouble is, of course, that while I can control what they do to some extent while I’m with them, I can only hope that they’re continuing with the same practices when I’m not.
It’s one of the reasons the Lif3 Smartchip intrigues me. Lif3 Canada is a Canadian company that has created a Smartchip (retails for $79.99) that you put on your phone to help reduce the radiation your cell phone emits. The Lif3 Smartchip actually contains microwave absorbing materials and a passive coupler chip that redirects radiation away from your head and body. (Each Lif3 Smartchip is specifically designed for a particular cell phone model.) The jury is still out on the long-term effects of exposure to cell phone radiation and there is a clear need (given the amount of time we spend with our phones) for more research, but I l have to admit that I like the peace of mind the Lif3 Smartchip provides in feeling that we’re at least doing something to reduce our exposure in the short term.
Your turn: What rules do you put into place while traveling with kids and devices? Are you a no-electronics family or anything goes?
This post was subsidized in part by Lif3. As per usual, all opinions are my own. Want to learn more about the Lif3 Smartchip and get information on the latest research on cell phone safety? You can read more at www.lif3.ca or this federal government site for more information on the research they’re currently doing in this area.