My tween has gone away for the weekend. She headed off, barely saying goodbye, tonight, to go glamping with her Guide pack. She took what seemed to me, enough kit to stay for a month, although I only remember paying for two nights, but the one thing she didn’t take was her phone.
The rules of the camping weekend are:
No makeup, no jewelry other than a watch and plain earrings, no expensive gadgets, no more money than the set amount advised, no expensive clothing, and NO PHONES.
No phones allowed.
It’s a camping/glamping weekend (the glamping bit is they are not sleeping in tents but pods) and they are doing all sorts of things that will result in them being out in the fresh air, getting lots of exercise, getting pretty filthy muddy, learning new skills and generally having fun. The kit list included “send them with clothes you don’t mind them getting REALLY dirty”.
They don’t need phones. They are going to be busy doing things normal kids should be doing. They all know what they are in for, they wanted to go, and last year they had a blast.
The horror on the parents chat group about kids not taking their phones, though. Apparently our kids can’t be without their phones for the weekend, and the parents can’t cope.
“but what if she needs to talk to me?” “but what if she isn’t feeling well?” “but what if she is homesick” “but what if she can’t manage without her phone” “but what if I want to make sure she is ok”‘
Here’s where I am the horrible, awful, uncaring parent.
My kid will survive the weekend without her phone.
If she needs to talk to me, it’s probably fairly urgent so she will go and ask the adults in charge who will call me. Same if she is ill or homesick. They are all sensible and kind adults with years of experience between them, and they can handle a group of tweens and teens for two days and two nights. I have no desire to check on her, to make sure she is ok, nor am I worried in the slightest bit that she will want to speak to me. In fact, we probably won’t cross her mind until she is in the car on the way home, and she is wondering what I have planned for dinner and if she remembered to leave her laundry basket out for me to do her washing (she normally does her own, yup, I am mean about that too, but on weekends away I don’t mind helping her)
Kids do not need phones on weekends away. They will not die without their phones (although mine did think she might when we told her we were having a tech-free summer holiday this summer – she survived, I promise)
Our kids spend far too much time on their phones, and frankly, if you are worried that your kid can’t cope for 48 hours without using their phone, then you need to reevaluate. If you are sending your kid away for the weekend with adults you trust, then you shouldn;t need to check on them, and they shouldn;t beed to check in with you. If you are worried they may be bullied whilst they are away, then you need to think about who they are spending time within that group and address that with the leaders and adults, or not send them. I know our tween is on her phone too much, and I am glad she is having a weekend break from it.
I sound harsh. I know. But given that my parents use to pop me on a plane, to allow me to fly thousands of miles, alone across the world, with no phone, and no way of knowing if I was ok until our headmaster at school faxed them to say I had arrived safely, and whole generations of kids have grown up without phones, I think we need to step back.
Special needs or anxiety?
If your child has special needs or anxiety and a weekend away is a big thing, then working with the adults to make sure they can cope and have support is key. My son has been away camping, and the people looking after him managed his sleep and sensory issues as well as I would at home, if not better, to be honest. I was a bit worried but knew that he was incapable hands and him having a phone to contact me would have reduced the learning experience of being away from me and learning to work with other adults around him to trust them to help him.
The only time a kid would need a phone or device is if they rely on it for medical purposes. If for example they are diabetic an use their phone to monitor their insulin and blood sugars, then I can see that it would be a sensible option to take it.
Otherwise, NO PHONES on a camping weekend is fine with me.
I guess that makes me a bad parent 😉
*And if you are the parent who told your kid they could take their phone, and just hide it, for the weekend, then shame on you. If you are that worried or determined to flout what has been asked of you, in terms of not sending a phone, then you have a problem*