Yesterday my brood and I piled into our car and headed off on a six hour round trip to visit my 14 -year-old daughter at her Summer Camp: Girls Zone. Before she left two weeks ago she was struggling with the fact that her father and I would not be sending her to camp with her cell phone.
Although campers are not allowed cell phones- they do get them when they go on trips. My feeling was this– she is upstate, in the country- with friends and surrounded by rabbits, horses, camels ( yes camels), chickens, Zip lines, Boats, trampolines, basketball hoops and even ATVs- there is simply no time or need for technology in the midst of all that tech-free activity- right?!
I’m not so sure she was on board with me- but since I AM THE PARENT- we did things my way. And I am happy to report after spending a few hours with her on Visiting Day, when I had her phone for her to use at her leisure- SHE BARLEY TOUCHED IT. I think I might be onto something- namely the idea that EVERY kid- whether they go to camp or are spending their days at the pool- need a tech-free summer experience for at LEAST a week. My daughter’s tech-free experience is going on week three at the moment and I am hoping once she returns home to keep the technology within her reach to a bare minimum. And here are FOUR REASONS WHY.
#1 It was GLORIOUS to have a face-to-face conversation without her looking down at her phone every minute. To be perfectly honest I hadn’t really noticed this before, but seeing her yesterday and looking at her while she talked, giving me her full attention, and being completely present in the moment, well I can tell you it brought me to tears.
#2 Instead of trying to capture every moment – my daughter is LIVING IN THE MOMENT. I have never seen my daughter so animated about so many different things; dancing, singing, teaching her self to do flips on the trampoline and sharing her excitement over learning how to go horseback riding- instead of being on the couch, playing on a phone, tablet or a computer in an almost zombie-like state. For both my husband and I it was PURE JOY to bear witness to our daughter’s new-found persona.
#3 She is NOW able to carry on PHONE conversations. Without the ability to text me- she has had to call me on a REAL LIFE PHONE. We’ve actually had telephone conversations (something we haven’t had in a VERY LONG while) and I’ve noticed how much she as grown in her verbal communication skills.
#4 She seems HAPPIER. It’s not that my daughter is usually unhappy. Maybe it’s more that when she is connected to her phone she seems more distant. Yesterday-her eyes were not cast down; she seemed completely present in in her environment and she was singing, humming and dancing for most of the day.
While all four of these behaviors can definitely be attributed to Girls Zone which stresses instilling good values and a love of environment, animals and religion- I can’t discount the fact that cutting technology out of the equation simply helped her to be more fully engaged and immersed in the camp and its activities. And I can’t go back to the way things were when she gets home.
What about you- have you noticed that when your child takes a break from technology- their attitude and demeanor does a 360 degree turn?