The first thing campers notice when they drive over the mountain is the loss of a cell phone signal. This symbolizes the start of a tech-free term, where emphasis is placed on their ability to run fast, play hard, and have fun and not on the speed that they can type a 140 character tweet.

Besides the distractions that technology leads to, researchers have also linked serious mental health problems to young people who overuse their smart phones, iPads and other devices. In a culture fueled by the need to be on the cutting edge of technology, it’s hard to take a step back and embrace the things we really need, like friends and family. And if it’s hard for you, then it’s even more difficult for your campers! Here are some tips to help keep your campers grounded in reality and not in cyberspace when they come home.

Lead By Example

Monkey see, monkey do. If you’re constantly checking your email while out to dinner or tweeting during a weekend baseball game, the kids are going to notice. Take a step back when out with the family and be involved in the moment, and encourage your campers to do the same. You can always reply to that work email on Monday.

Have a “Tech Rest” Moment

Take one hour out of your family’s day to not use technology. Turn off the TV, put your phone on silent, and hide the iPad. Go outside, play a board game, or just have dinner without any distractions. Your campers be surprised at how free they feel when they’re not constantly checking for notifications.

Don’t Let Them Sleep with Their Phones

Studies show that the blue light our phones, computers, and other devices omit has negative effects on our melatonin production, which regulates our sleep patterns. These effects are particularly damaging to teenagers. If you don’t want drowsy kids in the morning, turn off all electronics at least thirty minutes before bedtime and keep the technology out of their bedrooms.

Technology can help improve our lives, but it can also control it. It’s important to remind your camper that they own the technology, and not the other way around.

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