Advice Column, Parenting, Tween & Teen

The Big Question: Should Cellphones Be At Camp?

Do you find yourself constantly asking your child to get off their phone? Or delayed responses because they need to answer a text? Welcome to a world where toddlers have tablets and teenagers are iMessaging on the latest iPhone. A break from the digital world is the goal of our camp, to be able to revel in adventure, friendships, and personal growth. Most camps do not include cellphones on their packing list, and the reason is simple: cellphones take away from the camp experience. 

Many children and alarmingly numerous parents will argue that things are different and we need to move with the times. The most popular excuse is the reassurance of their children’s safety if they are always contactable. Besides being an obvious distraction from enjoying the moment, cellphones could prevent them from focusing on important safety protocols. Imagine a child more focused on capturing the perfect selfie, than remembering to put a helmet on!

Here are 3 ways having a cellphone at camp could be detrimental.  

Forming surface-level relationships 

Camp offers the opportunity to meet new people and form genuine relationships. Someone who shares your interests, carries an extra fruit for you or laughs at the crazy faces you make, that’s the power of camp culture! A study by Tamyra Pierce, professor in communication and electronic media, showed a relation between social anxiety and constant cyberspace interaction. In the findings, there was more diminished face-to-face communication skills and interpersonal intelligence with the increase in online communication. It’s hard to cultivate authentic relationships while you are updating your Instagram page or perfecting that selfie.

Children can’t unplug, literally.

When children come to camp, one of our main goals is to have our campers delve into a reality of acceptance, being yourself, surrounded by smiles and support. When a cellphone is brought to camp, they’re still attached to their life digitally. Social pressures are still in play; who gossiped about whom, how many people double tapped their last post, their minds are in digital mode. A Stanford researcher (Abuojaude) found in a 2006 study, that between 4 -14% of campers in various American camps, admitted that preoccupation with being online was interfering in their lives in various ways, but while at camp, couldn’t have been more relaxed. There is time to bask in the sun, enjoy a scary campfire story or watch the stars.

Hinders growth in social skills 

We could name endless benefits of camp for your child, but social skills are priceless. When you are constantly reminded of your life through social media, you tend to stick to what you know, which doesn’t give room for growth. There needs to be a conscious decision to experience the moment to engage in the social habits of others. With a cellphone in a camper’s hand, what would they be more focused on?

So the next time you are thinking of sending your child to camp with a cellphone, remind yourself why you are sending them to camp.

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