The Value of ‘Unplugging’ at Camp

Electronics policies for kids can be touchy subjects at schools and in clubs or extracurricular activities, so it’s no surprise these policies are a hot topic when it comes to summer camp. Your child may be excited to have the opportunity to participate in camp activities during the summer, but when they find out that they have to leave their mobile devices behind, they could have second thoughts.

Even parents who want to see their kids come out from behind their screens more often could be a little nervous about a policy of unplugging while at camp. Today’s parents are accustomed to being able to connect with their kids at any time, and giving that up can feel a little scary. However, there are good reasons why you and your child should embrace the chance for your child to unplug at summer camp.

Unplugging Encourages Participation

Without their smartphones, children can find themselves more willing to try new things and explore their surroundings.

Your child is growing up in a culture where no one ever needs to feel bored. Think about how often you use your phone or other mobile devices to combat boredom when you’re faced with a long line, a dull commute, or a solo meal. Your child is doing the same things—as soon as they decide they’re not interested in what’s going on around them, out come the social media apps, games, or messaging services.

The problem is, your child may not be giving themselves the opportunity to get interested in activities that they may like if they gave those activities a chance. If your child assumes that they won’t enjoy a particular sport, for example, they can just pull out their phone and sit it out, rather than giving it a try.

When your child is unplugged, they may be more inclined to give an activity a chance, even if they’re not sure they’re interested in it. A “no electronics” policy encourages your child to try more things and move past their comfort zone, rather than retreating behind a screen.

Unplugging Eases Anxiety

Constant electronic connection can leave kids (and adults!) feeling like they’re always on call. It’s easy to feel pressure to check every email, IM, and notification, and to do so as quickly as possible once they’re received. Those notifications may not seem very important in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn’t erase the nagging feeling that you’re doing something wrong or missing something important if you ignore them.

Removing the devices while your child is at camp eliminates the pressure to be always checking on those devices. Your child may be surprised at how relieved they feel not to have to jump every time their phone makes a noise. It may be difficult at first, especially if your child relies on their device heavily. Some people even report feeling phantom vibrations in their pockets when they’re away from their phone. But having the choice removed from their control can reduce the stress that your child may not even have realized they were feeling.

What’s more, when your child returns home and can check on their IMs and notifications, they’ll have proof that being away from the devices for a while wasn’t the end of the world. They will see that they didn’t miss anything—the internet is still right there waiting for them. This realization can help your child feel less pressure in the future and make healthier choices when it comes to their mobile device use.

Unplugging Enables Face-to-Face Communication

It’s important for kids to be able to bond and collaborate without any electronic devices in the way. 

There’s an argument to be made that kids who use mobile devices are learning skills, including communications skills, that they’ll need in adulthood—and that’s probably true. More and more jobs are requiring employees to be fluent in messaging, social media, and other online modes of communication and today’s kids will be well-suited for that aspect of adulthood.

However, that doesn’t mean that your kids don’t also need to build face-to-face communication skills. No matter how important online communication becomes, there will still be a place for in-person communication. And since kids spend so much of their time communicating with their peers online, they may be missing out on the chance to build those face-to-face skills.

At camp while unplugged, your child will need to introduce themselves to new people, form friendships, and participate in team activities, all without any screens to act as a buffer between themselves and other people. This is a great way for them to practice a subset of social skills that may not be getting enough use in other parts of their lives.

Camp should be more than just a place where your child spends time during the summer. It should be a place where they can stretch themselves, experience new things, and enjoy all of the good things that come with being a kid on summer vacation. Unplugging while at camp helps facilitate all of these beneficial elements of the camp experience. For more information about summer camp programs at Colorado Academy, contact us.

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