It’s 2019, and as everyone is well aware, we are deep in the digital age. Babies are nestling up to iPads and playing games on-screen rather than cuddling with teddy bears. Some children become so addicted to technology that experts have warned us that its effects can be as powerful as some of the world’s most harmful drugs. Many activities that were once centered around person-to-person interaction have transitioned to be phone-to-phone. Family vacations, for instance, have changed dramatically as a result of this technology takeover. Once upon a time, families packed up their minivan, sang songs, played I Spy, and enjoyed a good old fashioned road trip. But now, family vacations can devolve into parents talking over dinner at a roadside diner while their childrens’ eyes are glued to the iPad or smartphone.
The Pew Research Center revealed that 90% of households contain at least one tech device, that being a smartphone, laptop, tablet or a streaming media device. Nearly one-in-five American households (18%) are “hyper-connected”, meaning they contain 10 or more of these devices. Additionally, a poll conducted in the U.K. found that 25% of children, aged six and under, already have their own phone, and nearly half of these children spend up to 21 hours per week on their devices. What is clear is that technology is so deeply rooted in our lives, that we will not succeed in removing it, and instead need to shift the focus towards educational and engaging opportunities available within these devices, and use them productively. The next time you are traveling as a family, whether it be a European adventure or a holiday with the Grandparents , here are a few ways you can take advantage of this digital age .
Flying is already a very exhausting experience on its own, let alone doing it with your children. Your youngsters probably have their tech devices tightly gripped, or better yet, their eyes have been glued to their screens even before the security check. Well, good news, an array of educational games can be found on these devices. Whether on a smartphone, tablet or laptop, apps like: DragonBox, Quick Maths, Science360, Crossword Puzzles are perfect for the plane ride. Recently, educational tech company Osmo launched an iPad-enabled learning tool for preschoolers called, “The Little Genius Starter Kit”. It consists of four interactive games aimed at teaching young children the alphabet, the essentials of drawing, and creative problem-solving. The plane is certainly a space where children need to be entertained, so what better way to get a bit more out of it, no matter the duration of the flight.
You know the drill, if there are no pictures did it even happen? Travelling has become dominated by selfies, and well, posting a series of vacation pictures across multiple social media platforms. Now, imagine embarking on a Euro trip, traveling to multiple countries in a short amount of time. What better way to have some tangible memories from the trip than having your photography game on-point. Through their devices, children can learn photography skills, and keep these memories alive. Apps like Photography 101, and Element of Photography can teach children the art of photo taking, with tutorials and assignments. Next time you are travelling through Europe with the family, the kids can also learn a skill they will carry with them to every destination.
When travelling with the family, there is always that one designated family member in charge of navigation. Especially when finding the right campsite or the highest rated historical monument your children can learn a thing or two about geography while on the move, which could prevent the whole family from losing their way. Children can actually learn very useful geographical skills through their devices, with apps such as Barefoot World Atlas, Kids World Maps, GeoBee Challenge HD by National Geographic and Tiny Countries. Children can learn about maps and geography, especially in the area in which they are travelling, or even become a master in navigating the family via waze, and the classic google maps.
What better way to spend some downtime on vacation than with one of the classics, but imagine that this time it’s on your phone. Interactive reading apps can be used on any device and easily fit into modern families’ busy schedules, so children can read anywhere, as well as on-the-go. For instance, imagine your going to visit the grandparents, and let’s just say that there’s going to be a lot of ‘relaxation’ time. No matter how old your children are, there are interactive reading apps for young children and all the way to the pre-teens, who think they are too cool to read. Starfall Learn to Read provides vowel sound practice and reading comprehension activities for the youngsters in the family. In addition, the top-rated, research-backed app, Homer, motivates children to enjoy reading, by building on what they already know, and tapping into the topics that most interest them – the perfect relaxation activity while visiting the grandparents.
Using tech devices to learn a new language while on the road is perfect for traveling to any new destination with an unfamiliar culture. When learning a new language there are two applications that stand out for children. One example is Memrise, mostly for older kids, which contains fun vocabulary exercises, and courses in a multitude of languages. Additionally, the app also uses memes and gamification to create a fun and catchy association with the studied words and concepts. Additionally, Stories by Gus on the Go, more suited for younger children, where children can play their way through games and lessons based on timeless story tales, such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears or The Three Little Pigs while learning a new language at the same time. These applications are perfect for when the family is on the road, looking for a great way to make the time go by a little faster.
Although family vacations have become heavily influenced by the power of technology, parents have the tools to utilize this technology for the well-being of their children and in turn the whole family. What has become clearer, other than the latest retina display screen, is that devices have the potential to contribute to making travel with the family meaningful and memorable again.
Cory Jones is Vice President of Global Marketing & Product for Skyroam, and most notably, Dad to 22 month old Lana. He has deep expertise in travel, telecom, retail and the sharing economy, which prompted him to join the Skyroam team. Skyroam was founded in Silicon Valley by technology innovators who identified a common pain-point among fellow travelers: getting fast, secure, and reliable mobile internet connection on the road. To solve this problem, Skyroam developed and patented its virtual SIM (vSIM) technology, which delivers on-demand local wireless data through local carrier partnerships around the world. Enjoyed by over 15 million users worldwide, Skyroam’s global hotspots, embedded with a vSIM, enable unlimited mobile WiFi in 130+ countries. Skyroam’s vSIM technology also provides global mobile data access to IoT, M2M, and wearables applications. Visit www.skyroam.com for more information and stay in touch at @MySkyroam on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.