What are your plans for summer? Personally, I’m looking forward on spending some long, relaxing days in the sunshine doing fun things with my family. Hopefully, without the kids being buried behind their screens when the sun is shining.
But what are the odds of that happening during the 2017 holiday season? Research shows that three out of four 10-year-olds use the Internet on a daily basis, and almost all teenagers. Of children aged 8–11 years, over 90 percent use tablets regularly. Teenagers tend to opt for smartphones instead of tablets.
Kids use their devices to post photos on Instagram, to view video clips on YouTube, watch films on Netflix, and to chat with their friends on KIK and Snapchat and other social media sites. They are used to technology and having permanent Internet access, so a holiday in a remote location and without a stabile mobile connection, can be the cause of conflicts*.
To avoid the tedious arguments on who’s eating up the bandwidth and slowing down the connection speed, my advice is to get on top of any tech-related issues before your holiday starts.
Banning the use of devices or accessing the Internet won’t be pragmatic (unless you are completely out of range). But finding out about the access at your holiday home or location and setting some ground rules in advance is a good idea. This will ensure that both children and adults can relax together this summer, and that everyone can still stay in touch and get things done when they need to – or watch a film together on a rainy day.
Here are my five tips on how to make your connected summer as relaxing as possible:
1. Take lots of photos of your summer adventures, but make sure you back them up so that you can treasure your memories in years to come.
2. Agree on some rules when it comes to screen time to give everyone a chance to get a break from tech and to play outside in the sunshine – and that goes for parents too!
3. Set parental controls on your children’s devices, so that you know that they won’t access any inappropriate content.
4. To avoid arguments about who’s using up the Internet connection, use a mobile router set-up that allows you to share the bandwidth between everyone fairly.
5. If you go abroad, remember that this is the first summer where most networks offer cheap roaming in Europe, but if you are unsure what your network is charging you, consider turning off your data roaming. But be careful which Wi-fi networks you use; don’t connect to just any open network – only use hotel or café networks if they are encrypted.
And most important, remember to use sunscreen (and try not to smear any on your phone). Have a nice summer.
* In Sweden, where I live, it is very common to retire to the countryside for your holidays. In many parts, Internet connections are not what we are used to at home, which can lead to conflicts between parents and children when they all want to use the bandwidth at the same time.