Tech Talk: Making the Most of an Unplugged Family Vacation

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Tech Talk with Lisa Hendey/Son Rise Morning Show (CatholicMom.com)

On a recent episode of the Son Rise Morning Show, we discussed ways to disconnect from technology during family vacations.

With vacation season upon us, it seems that it’s more challenging than ever to for family members, both grown up and youngsters, to “unplug.” Why is this such a big problem?

  • Interestingly, technology also helps us to improve our travel by allowing us navigational tools, tools to research and enjoy our destinations and tools to connect and keep in touch while we are on the road.
  • According to a recent Pew study, “Fully 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% say they are online ‘almost constantly.’”
  • For grown ups in families, being tethered by our cell phones may mean that we remain connected to work duties 24/7 which keep us from being able to enjoy our families during vacation.

What suggestions do you have for carving out “tech-free” time while on vacation?

  • Determine in advance your desired level of disconnectedness and discuss it as a family.
  • Use tools such as “Smart Limits” from ATT to set limits and manage your family’s phone usage.
  • Consider going into “airplane mode” for a scheduled period each day. This provides you the ability to take photos to be shared later, but to stay offline while enjoying family fun.

We know that for today’s teens, their phones are a lifeline of sorts, enabling them to keep in touch with friends and share their experiences. But just last week, a priest raised a major conversation on Twitter about the spiritual dangers of Snapchat. What conversations should families be having about the place of social media while on vacation?

  • Of the 31% of teens in the Pew study who indicated that social media had a positive impact on their lives, 40% pointed to their ability to connect with loved ones as their primary reason for enjoying social media.
  • Of the 27% of teens who said it had a negative impact, their primary concerns were bullying, rumor spreading and harm to their real world relationships.
  • Family vacation time provides the perfect opportunity to have open conversations about your teens’ and children’s mental well-being, their dreams, and their relationships. Ask your children how these tools make them feel, how they are impacting them emotionally and spiritually. Emerge from your time together with a plan of action and a commitment for the whole family.

Are there any positive tech tools that might enhance a family’s travel experience?

Listen to our full conversation here — then have a conversation with your family about how you can disconnect from tech during family travel.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.


Copyright 2018 Lisa Hendey

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

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