Editor’s Note: The following story from The Boston Globe clearly shows how technology has invaded and transformed the campground.
Chris Szymczuk and his son Tommy were grilling bread for BLTs outside their camper at the Bay View Campground in Bourne, Mass., and with Tommy’s XBox 360 and cellphone nowhere in sight, the Bridgewater father pronounced himself happy.
“It’s a little bit of heaven,” Szymczuk said.
That is how he sees technology-free vacation time together. Tommy, 13, enjoys undiluted family time, too, but only up to a point. “Half the time we’re doing nothing,” he said, recalling evenings spent around a campfire. “That’s when I text or play some Xbox.”
Father and son smiled at each other under the bright July sun. “I learn to deal with it,” said Szymczuk, who works for a wine and liquor distributor. “It is what it is,” Tommy replied.
Technology, having transformed the rest of life, is going after the family vacation. Parents and kids are equally guilty of clinging to their mobile devices, though for anyone who has learned about the night sky from an app — or answered a work e-mail from the beach — technology can enhance a vacation, or make it possible for some adults to get away at all. But the benefits of vacationing as a family may be lessened if each person spends the holiday physically present but mentally elsewhere.
How much of an impact is technology having? Even the age-old refrain from the back seat — “Are we there yet?” — is under fire.
“Sometimes, the kids are almost reluctant to get out of the car,” said Brad Harrington, executive director of Boston College’s Center for Work & Family. You reach your destination, but instead of hopping out, the children stay buckled in. “Just one more level,” they beg, thumbs working their game players, or, “Let me finish this episode.”
“There are times in the journey where you’d like them to unplug and interact,” Harrington joked, “even if it’s to fight.”
Statistics do not exist on the percentage of teenagers who go an entire week on Cape Cod texting so furiously they do not even realize they are away, or the number of hours toddlers spend pleading with parents to stop checking e-mail and help with the sand castle.
But mobile devices have become so much a part of the family vacation that campground owners say offering Wi-Fi service is almost a must — and some guests prefer a spot with a strong signal to one with a view of the trees. Front-desk clerks report that families arrive with so many devices that hotels have had to add power strips to rooms. And some vacationers admit they are more interested in photographing the moment for Facebook than being in the moment.
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