Screens on holiday - Yay or Nay?

It's been a week since we got back from Orlando and while we had an amazing trip there's one thing that annoyed me, and it still does. Did you know there's a babysitter in your pocket? Well, there is - apparently. No matter where I looked while on holiday there were children either walking around with a phone in their hand or sat at dinner tables staring at screens.

Screens on holiday

Now I admit I let our boys take their iPads on holiday. They played on their iPads for all of about 2 hours in total - that's in six weeks! We were far too busy having fun in the parks and eating at fabulous restaurants for them to be playing games on tablets. But it seems my opinion on this differs wildly from the opinions of most.

Everywhere I looked, both in the Walt Disney World parks and the restaurants, children had tablets or phones in their hands. I first noticed it when we sat down for breakfast on our first day. Scanning the various tables in the restaurant most had children sitting with phones in their hands. I shook my head and ate my breakfast, not thinking any more about it.

iPad, nexus devices, laid on a table with picture of sunglasses and a drink nearby.

But it was something I noticed again and again. In the parks, the Walt Disney World theme parks where there are rollercoasters around every corner and entertainment wherever you look, I saw children wandering around looking at screens rather than the breathtaking things all around them.

I was sad.

Such wondrous things to see and they were choosing to look down at a screen? Or rather their parents were allowing them to look at screens.

Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master. 

Christian Lous Lange

Parent's responsibility

It seemed like the screens were all the children were interested in. But for me it was more about the parent's decision to allow them to look at screens that bothered me. If the parents are allowing their children to walk around a theme park while looking at a screen what on earth are they teaching them?

It's okay to ignore the world around you?
Life is inside the screen?
There's no need to consider what's happening in the real world?

I tell you, I despair. I cannot stand the thought of what those children will grow up thinking about real life.

The worst case I remember seeing was at a show - a show where there are people on stage putting in a lot of effort to entertain. It's a brilliant show called Hoop De Doo Musical Revue and there's singing and dancing and you spend a lot of time laughing. And yet there was one child a few tables away from us and they were watching their screen the entire time. At first I thought it was just while they were waiting for the show to start but having glanced across while the show was on I saw the child was still staring at the screen and not at the actors on stage.

Dancing people in the show Hoop De Doo Musical Revue in Walt Disney World.

I wondered why the parents would bother buying a ticket for the show (it's not cheap) for the child to sit there and not watch it - it seems like a waste to me. But it's also so so sad. That child didn't get to experience the laughter because they were too busy playing games or watching shows on the screen.

Evil Mum time

I've written before about how I am Evil Mum - the persona I took on when my eldest became a teen - and how I started reducing screen times and disciplining the boys for bad behaviour. But I've also written about how being an Evil Mum is a good thing. You have to be able to accept your children aren't going to like some of your decisions but that you know what is best for them.

Like not letting them use a screen in a theme park!

BP has had a phone for a few years now and during our trip he used it more than usual. He spent a lot of time messaging his friends back home and chatting to one particular friend who happened to be in Orlando at the same time as us. However, I still ended up telling him to put his phone away when we were in the parks. I couldn't stand it when I saw him walking through the parks staring at his phone - and I told him so. I started pointing out other children staring at screens and the things they were missing because of it. And that ended up being a useful teaching opportunity. My boys could see the other children missing out on some brilliant sights - like seeing the March of Storm Troopers through the streets in Hollywood Studios - and it proved I wasn't just being Evil, I was doing it for a reason.

Marching Storm Troopers in Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World.

Make your children have fun - even when they don't want to

I don't tend to tell other parents how to raise their children - it's none of my business after all - but when it comes to this I have to say I think they're doing it wrong. To allow your children to miss out on what could be a 'once in a lifetime' thing because they want to look at screens is a BAD THING. A parent should say no to that kind of thing, especially when in theme parks!

I lost count of the number of times I had to tell BP to put his phone away - but I did it, again and again because I knew what was best for him.

Telling our children what to do when they're growing up is our job.
We do know what is best - no matter what our children think.

And while screens have become a part of everyday life I don't think it's a good thing to let them take over everyday life. We need to make our children take breaks and enjoy life, to see the wonderful things around them and and be an engaged part of society.

New technology is not good or evil in and of itself. It's all about how people choose to use it. 

David Wong

Having 'screen time' and limits on technology are the ways I teach my children to be part of society rather than living their lives within the confines of a computer. I want to raise well rounded children, I want them to become men who can function in the real world and interact with other people without having to resort to staring at a screen.

Do you allow your children to play with tablets when on holiday - stop by and let me know your thoughts.

How do you feel about screens on holiday - do you allow them or do you enforce 'screen time'?

If you enjoyed this post you might also like Teaching your children about social media or if you'd like to read something that is a bit less ranty why not check out Why it's awesome being a mum to tweens/teens.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on screen time but if you'd rather not comment on the blog why not pop over to Facebook or Twitter and share your thoughts with me there?

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