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Counsellor Reveals 4 Tips for Setting Boundaries Around Tech on Family Break

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It’s no surprise that technology has changed the inter-face of the modern family break. In fact, half of UK parents (51%) don’t have any rules at all on their child’s tech use on holiday.

Although many reported that tech helps to keep children occupied while travelling (45%), the survey found that a quarter (26%) of UK parents said it stopped their children paying attention to the world around them and 22% said it stopped them switching off from everyday life.

With a quarter (24%) of parents considering introducing tech rules for their next family break, Village Hotels has teamed up with Georgina Sturmer, counsellor, MBACP to reveal her top tips for restricting children’s tech on holiday as well as her thoughts on  “gentle parenting” when it comes to technology use.

Georgina said: “Quality time helps us to build connections with each other, away from the demands, distractions and routines of our everyday lives. When we are on a family break, we are not just spending time together, we are experiencing new things together, and creating shared memories.

“These new experiences can benefit us all, especially younger children.  When we try new things within the safety of our family unit, we have the chance to learn and grow, while feeling secure and supported by those around us.”

So how can parents restrict their children’s tech usage to feel the biggest benefit of their family break?

1. Have an age-appropriate conversation  

Explain the reasons why you want to have boundaries in place.  So that you can enjoy your time together, and so that you can all appreciate the experiences that are happening beyond the view of their screen.  So that you can find ways to entertain yourselves without needing to resort to picking up a device.

2. Have a united front  

It’s important for both parents (or other carers) to be fully onboard with these types of decisions and boundaries. Consistency between carers helps reinforce the rules and expectations, making it easier for children to understand and follow them. When both parents are aligned, it also creates a unified front, reducing confusion and potential conflicts. This harmony ensures that the child feels secure and supported in their environment.

3. Lead by example  

Children copy what we do, not what we say. So if you want them to put down their devices, then they need to see you doing the same thing.  If you find that you ’need’ to be on your phone for practical reasons, then get in the habit of explaining it. Make sure they know that you need your phone for Google Maps, or that you plan to spend a specific amount of time checking work emails.

4. Suggest alternatives

If we are used to reaching for a device for entertainment, then consider what else you might need to take with you on holiday – books, games, toys, creative materials, things that you can pull out of a bag when everyone gets bored.  Also, consider the other things that you might need to take on holiday to reduce your reliance on technology.  Maps to help you to find your way, pen and paper, an alarm clock, all the features of the pre-digital world.

Should “gentle parenting” apply when it comes to technology?

The concept of “gentle parenting” is all about listening to our children, tuning into what they need. It focuses on staying calm and connected with our child, rather than resorting to anger or punishment.  If we apply this concept strictly, then it’s possible that this style of parenting might lack boundaries. This might mean giving into every demand, and feeling as if our child is somehow in charge of the family.

When we think about screens and access to technology, there is a risk here.  A risk that if we ‘give in’ to every demand, then the addictive pull of technology might mean that our children find themselves drawn into their devices. So, while it’s important to be gentle, and to tune into what our children need, it’s also important to set and hold effective boundaries. To teach our children the type of behaviour that we want to see, while role modelling it ourselves.

A spokesperson from Village Hotels said “The British family break is a wonderful time for us to spend time with our loved ones, relax, and create lasting memories. Technology doesn’t have to be a bad thing and can be positive for allowing our children to capture memories and search for further information on what they’re seeing around them. However, if your child is struggling to switch off from the digital world, it may be time to introduce some restrictions.

“We wanted to team up with Georgina to reveal some top tips for getting the most out of your family break, without technology being too much of a distraction.

“If you’re looking to take a family vacation, we have plenty of hotels close to UK cities from Bournemouth to Blackpool– you may just discover your new favourite destination.”

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