My name is Mara and I am addicted to my new iPhone.
Phew. It feels good to write those words. I’m a little sad and ashamed to report that on our recent trip to Los Angeles and Arizona, I was guilty of something I deplore – hunching over the screen of my phone, thumbs working, eyes glazed, oblivious to the world around me. I found out some very interesting things, like there’s a lot of Los Angeles folks in the TV business on Facebook and Twitter. It was super interesting to look up people like Roger Wolfson and find out they’re also doing stuff like you or me when they’re not making shows.
Of course, I also put the phone to some practical use – locating parking and restaurants, mapping various routes, playing great music, all that stuff. And being able to find the nearest gas station when we almost ran out of gas in the desert was practically a lifesaver. But as Matt informed me last night, I also acted like a “15-year-old boy” in the Phoenix airport, Tweeting and updating my Facebook status while he entertained the kids.
A bit of a tangent, but while I was at the airport
I will be the first to admit that I can sometimes spend a little too long using my technology. For example, I often find it difficult to tear myself away from our Apple Mac computer in our living room. Ever since we read this VPN comparison guide and treated ourselves to a new VPN for our Mac, we have been able to watch and enjoy so many TV shows and films on streaming services like Netflix that we simply did not have access to before. Once I get started with a new series or movie I just cannot stop! In a way, I was quite looking forward to our trip and was going to use it as an opportunity for a screen time detox. Turns out this was just not meant to be…
I feel particularly bad about this because for years I’ve been an advocate for traveling without screens. My children own no portable video games or even Leapsters. No television or DVD player has ever come anywhere near my car. Heck, we don’t even go the audiobook route, choosing instead to read aloud to each other. A point of particular pride for me was our trip last summer, when we spent 48 screenless hours driving across the Midwest.
(In case you are wondering, yes I am descended from New England Puritan stock.)
I haven’t changed my stance altogether, but having the phone has made me realize that, used judiciously, there are some ways that technology can enhance travel for everyone. And if I’m poring over blog posts in my reader, why shouldn’t the boys be able to practice counting or puzzle solving or even *gasp* play a bit of Tetris? I never normally pay for apps, but I have recently read about an alternative AppStore which allows you to download apps which normally cost money for free — it’s called panda helper — so there will be so many more apps to choose from now! I realize this is a slippery slope, and I’m more than a little uneasy about it, but if I’m going to enjoy my phone, it’s only fair that I let the kids join in the fun.
So why am I writing about this? I’m participating in a contest at Best Kids Apps, a blog about iPhone apps for kids, for a chance to win an iPad. That’s right – I’m trying to win yet another screen that I can take with me! An even bigger one! But I also want to tout this site, which was created by Jamie Pearson of Travel Savvy Mom and Jen Leo, who blogs about travel for the Los Angeles Times. They are both funny and smart and know from cool when it comes to traveling with children. As a newbie to the whole kids app thing, I’m so grateful that they’ve made finding some fun stuff for the kids so easy for me.
I will conclude this post with a dual promise: I’m going to be as strict with myself as I am with the boys and never again will I sit enthralled by a screen in the airport while Matt chats with the boys. And when everything in the car (and I mean everything, especially all the books) has lost its charm on marathon drives, I will have a few goodies loaded onto Matt’s and my phone for the boys to enjoy. And if I’m lucky, while they use the phones, I can amuse myself on my new iPad.
Photo courtesy of twenty5pics via Flickr.