Peter Jenkinson goes on holiday.
As a kid (yup that’s me) packing for a holiday was simple. Whatever I could find from last year’s inflatable collection, a bare minimum of clothing and perhaps a book (just to keep mum off my back), was all I needed.
Loading up the suitcases for our half-term break to the Sinai Peninsula totally taxed my nine year-old's grey matter. She didn't know which gadget to take and which to sacrifice for reading material (to keep her mum happy).
The Nintendo DS is a must. It takes up very little space and Mario can keep a kid entertained for many hours but then came decision time, tablet or iPod touch (I know what you’re thinking so don’t) and after some calculations regarding download costs for a couple of books/games and apps the tablet was chosen (quite apt really, as it was the Sinai we were off to).
This vexing period annoyed me a tad, it is my fault she has access to these technological cast-offs, so I decided to pack a pencil case, pack of cards and set of dice and challenge myself to make these pocketable item’s entertaining for at least some period of time.
After memorising a couple of dice based games and scoring mechanics, the play en-route to the airport was agreeable.
There isn’t any “can I just finish this level”, “aww dad it’s nearly finished”, “this last bit and then I’ll switch it off” – It always happens, someone gets annoyed, this phrase book is embedded in a young generation of tech-hungry kids.
It was in fact I, upon being seated for take-off that gave up on the dice, I have an inherent dislike of flying and I need to deeply embed my brain into something like a Tolstoy/Algebraic text book or valium (the latter not at all good when you’ve the kids with you).
Glancing over the kids after an hour of settling down we now staring with satsifaction into the iPad (other tablets are apparently available) with mum cathartically toying with the dice in a rosary bead fashion and all was good with the world.
Since we’ve been here a few days the technology has played a much lesser part in proceedings.
Any down time is taken up with a good old fashioned book (although Mrs J and her Kindle cannot be parted of late) – it is all about balance, boundaries and enforced tech schedules.
Let kids play on a computer and they will, in the most part, happily stay there for far longer than we grown-ups can.
I’m quite happy to have my kids be PC literate, their school just went fully wi-fi and the final year (junior school) get a class full of tablets (local authority in case you wondered).
For good old-fashioned fallouts (dice knobbling, card switching) and family fun please pack away some die and writing implements and bribe the kids if you must at first, to pledge some time in their hectic schedule to keep you off their backs for a bit.