GREENSBORO, N.C. — In a recent article, a single mom of three teenage daughters, ages 13, 16, and 21, refuses to take her daughters on another vacation because they spent more time on their phones than enjoying time together as a family.
This got us thinking about other parents who might have had similar experiences with their kids on family vacations.
Even though most teens are stuck on their phones at home, many parents expect their kids to put their phones away on vacation. A vacation is about taking a break from the daily grind; if teens are on their phones, they’re not enjoying the moment. If vacation mimics home, what’s the point of going on vacation. Additionally, parents work hard for their money. They sacrifice time away from their kids to provide them with the best possible life. If kids are glued to their phones and not enjoying time with their family, it makes parents feel like, what was the point. And many parents feel unappreciated.
To avoid arguments and disappointments about your teens using their phones on vacation, it’s a good idea to have a chat before you go on vacation. Not when you’re already in transit by car or plane to your vacation. Ask your teens about their expectations for the vacation. Find out what activities they want to do while on vacation. Ask them how much chill they want. Find out what would make the vacation successful. Understanding their expectations will help you navigate any potential problems. Then talk about phone use. Decide together ground rules. When during vacation, they can use their phone. How long they can use their phone. Social media posting vs. texting friends vs. talking on the phone. Do you want everyone to be present so there are no phones at dinner, but relaxing on the beach is ok?
If you and your teens have an agreement about phone use, a simple reminder about their agreement is usually enough for them to abide by the rules. Make sure that you’re abiding by the agreement too. Even though they’re teens, you can take their phones away and say something like, “I’ll keep your phone while we’re having dinner and give it back afterward.” And catch your teen when they’re following the agreement, which helps increase compliance. You can say something like, “I appreciate you staying off your phone while we were at lunch.”
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