If your child is like most children, he or she tweets their way through breakfast, texts at lunch, likes, comments and Snapchats through dinner, post selfies to Instagram before bedtime and wakes up to do it all again the next day. No wonder they stay up late and want to sleep until noon… They’re busy.
Research shows kids spend up to 7.5 hours A DAY with their eyes glued to a screen and their fingers frantically pecking away at keyboards. Kids growing up in an age of widely accessible and socially acceptable technology can get lost in the sea of text messages and status updates. Social media can be a welcoming environment for bullies, as it’s easy to become detached from empathy and consequences when you’re behind a screen. Kids do and say things they wouldn’t normally do or say when they’re plugged in. When kids only speak their mind anonymously or try to be someone they aren’t to impress others, they’re lacking opportunities to develop self-confidence and character. They may have 1,000 friends or followers on social media, but are slowly losing the ability to walk up to someone and shake their hand or settle conflict in a responsible and socially acceptable way. Social media isn’t bad in itself, it’s a great tool to keep connected and learn about the world. But, when we let it take the place of our child’s social development, we’re doing them a huge disservice.
Which is why, at Camp Laurel, we’re unplugged. Campers leave their cellphones at home and enjoy a summer without texting, emailing or using social media. At first, campers may consider this unfathomable, but as they dive deep into the activities that Camp Laurel offers, they will reevaluate their dependence on technology. They will interact with others in a meaningful way. They will improve their written communication skills by writing letters home to loved ones and feel the excitement of receiving a handwritten note from friends and family – a feeling you just don’t get when you check your inbox. Without a phone in their pocket to tempt them, they will be able to really focus and listen to what other campers are saying. In turn, when they’re sharing a story or experience, they won’t be talking to a group of friends preoccupied with their screens.
Campers who arrive shy and a little reserved will leave with new found confidence based on their accomplishments over the summer. They’ll be able to look back on the summer when they learned to swim, conquered stage fright, made new friends and discovered their love for a new activity. Campers will be able to apply that self-confidence into their lives back home. They’ll no longer need to hide behind a screen in order to communicate with their peers.
As a parent, you can find comfort in the fact that while your child is away, they’ll be learning valuable life skills that don’t involve how many words they can text a minute, or how many likes they can get on their Instagram picture. The skills they learned while they are unplugged will stay with them for a lifetime, and that’s better than being retweeted by a celebrity.