Digital Safety and Detoxing During The Holidays

Over 2.1 billion of us own a smartphone or tablet device which also means we can access the internet, message our friends and upload selfies anytime we like. It’s understandable that when we go on holiday we will want to take our devices with us to share our holiday spam! Last year saw a report published which showed smartphones have overtaken laptops, iPads, and tablets as the preferred device to own. It’s now not uncommon to see children under ten with tablets and phones of their own, while studies show that children under eighteen months old are aware of how to operate a tablet.

Going on holiday is a great time to think about additional device security (we have Kaspersky at home) and a digital detox! We have found that we are quite reliant on devices especially whilst we are travelling so there are limits that as parents we can put in place!

Many twelve, to nineteen-year-olds, have freely admitted clocking up twenty or more hours online each week. Often the first thing they do when they wake up is check their phone, while others admit to only getting a few hours of sleep per night as they’re busy chatting to friends. So here are a few ways to encourage them to be secure as well as have some time out!

Don’t overshare

We all know that social media means that we can share our images and information so easily these days. Talk to your child about how they share online. I encourage my daughter not to share her name, personal details and as such I try not to share face on shots of my children on social media. It’s easy to be more open on holiday as we feel more relaxed but let your children be aware the same rules apply on holiday as at home.

Stay safe

When sharing information, we need to ensure that our devices have the right amount of security on them. While travelling you can be more susceptible to hacking and data stealing. Ensure you child knows about keeping their passcodes secure.

Mute Notifications

The average person checks their phone around 100 times per day, which means that the typical teenager will look at theirs at least 150 times or more! A holiday is a time of relaxation so it’s only fair that you have a few rules regarding answering any ping you get from your phone or tablet.

One of the easiest ways to stop your teen getting distracted, staring blankly at the screen or ignoring you in favor of their Whatsapp conversations is to get them to turn off all notifications. Particularly those from Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp which tend to come thick and fast at the best of times. Remember, their smartphone is how they communicate with friends and other members of the family so they believe they can multitask when actually the opposite is true!

Why not show them just how annoying it is? The next time they ask you something don’t reply. The chances are they’ll get frustrated and angry pretty quickly so you can use those feelings to open up a dialogue about appropriate communication and what’s expected when you talk to them. A fun, light-hearted way to show them they aren’t paying as much attention as they think is to have them recite a short passage of text back to you. We can guarantee it’ll be a struggle, and hopefully, they’ll be able to see that they haven’t always been respectful communicators in the past.

Silent Dinners 

Obviously, we don’t mean the dinner table should be quiet, but you need to be talking to each other, not scrolling through your phones. Have everyone put their phone in the center of the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the first person who reaches for theirs has to do the washing up, cook the next meal or carry through the serving dishes.

Not only will you no longer be driven to distraction by constant interruptions, but your teens will enjoy talking to everyone face to face instead of through a screen. If you find they just switch their affections from their phone to the television ban that too!

A good holiday rule is to ban all electronic devices during dinner, other diners and staff will thank you for it.

Embrace Analogue Activities

Somehow, kids think that unless they’re engaging in some form of digital activity, it feels like they’re not productive. Suggest that they swap TV for some less electronic pastimes and encourage them to read, listen to live music, go for a bike ride, learn how to cook or play chess anything that’ll move their behinds off the sofa and into another room! Holidays are not for homework or gaming – they’re for getting out and having a sense of adventure! You want to make memories and take photos of the fun times not with your heads fixed to a screen!

Delete Social Media Apps

It may be a controversial option, but if they haven’t got Facebook on their phones, they won’t spend forever updating their status, posting pictures and chatting with friends. We’re not saying they can’t watch cat memes on holiday but instead it’s an idea to minimalise access social media from a computer. This will help to lower the amount of time they spend staring at their phone, as well as free up some much-needed memory space as you’d be surprised how much storage apps need.

Encourage your child to leave their electronics inside the hotel room and say no phones after a set bedtime, so they aren’t tempted to go online at two in the morning, or stay up late watching Netflix as they’ll get a much better night’s rest. Studies conducted by various sleep clinics have shown teens who are racking up more than four hours screen time per day, including lectures spent in IT labs, were over three times more likely to suffer from insomnia!

Plan ‘Family’ Fun

Often teenagers turn to their phones when they’re bored so make sure they have plenty to do at weekends and during school holidays. They may be a little too old for a visit to a petting zoo, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to hang out with the rest of the family! They might say they’d rather wear a neon pink tutu and mouse ears than spend time with their parents but that’s usually just to save face and appear cool! Arrange to go to a museum, a theme park, go the movies, have brunch, take a trip to the beach, have a games afternoon or just go out for a drive together.

The only rule for family and holiday time? No one, including yourselves, can use their phones except in an emergency. Take your pictures the old-fashioned way with a film camera, use a road map or grasp some of the local lingo to ask for your menu or directions to those famous holiday landmarks. Most of all stay safe online and off while you’re away this summer and enjoy making some magical memories. There’ll be time to share the on Facebook when you get back!


Manic Mama of 3, wife of shouty singer Gav, blog writer, stationery obsessive, bed jumper, Brighton based social media consultant and semi-pro juggler of it all!

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