Summer Camp in a TikTok World

There are moments as parents when it is hard to believe that our own kids successfully (and even happily) separate from their beloved “screens” for an entire summer at camp. It seems (and they have even stated) that they would rather spend their summer playing video games online with their friends and watching endless Youtube, TikTok, etc.

In general, people enjoy understanding as much as possible and also generally enjoy giving information to others.  The computers in our pockets, on our desks, and basically all around us are constantly helping us by doing the same thing: receiving and providing information – they (computers) just don’t enjoy it.  They don’t care about the images and videos they share, as amazing or inappropriate as they may be.

People care more when other people care, and living in a world where we are receiving and providing terabytes of information through an emotionless medium has advantages and disadvantages that can be hard to reconcile.  Videos are now ruling our free time and our work time.  Anyone can make and share a video, and anyone can follow the rabbit hole to the most obscure bit of information.

Studies have shown that reduced screen time in children correlates to improved mental health, and even further benefits if replaced with organized activities.  We are challenged more and more each summer as camp directors to be able to find that time away from our phones and email when we must be available at all times.  It is hard to espouse the benefits of the 2 way radio and “landlines” to staff who rarely, if ever, rely on them.

Vega camper during a Digital Media activity period

Conversely, it is important to recognize studies that have shown benefits of screen time, especially “active” screen time such as playing a video game instead of “passive” time such as watching Youtube or TikTok.  While there is the obvious benefit of being able to stay in touch with all of you at camp more easily, girls at camp actually have been able to partake in “active” screen time at camp in digital media working with Adobe Photoshop and Premier.  And perhaps one of our visions (obviously Kyle’s) of an active, social video game activity period may become a reality in a not too distant future summer.

In the meantime, we will appreciate all the moments we have with our children, while they are still children. And even though it’s hard to be without them, we cherish the weeks they have at camp….without their screens.