In a world where we’re all tech-obsessed, the best thing many of us can do is get back to nature. But that can be tough when we rely on our gadgets to navigate and let others know we’re safe. The solution? Unplug when you can … and power up the green way.
According to University of Utah’s Professor David Strayer, Americans spend nearly 10 hours a day in front of a computer or electronic device — and only 30 minutes a day outdoors. Considering that nearly 660,000 drivers use cell phones and other devices while driving, we adults aren’t very good at disconnecting. Nor are our children, as is evidenced by the percentage of young kids under the age of five who can use a smartphone app (19%) compared to those who can tie their own shoes (9%). Parents who want to discourage the overuse of technology in their children and in themselves might be smart to go on a wilderness retreat or camping trip that’ll promote quality time together without any screens.
It’s a good thought, and it’s one that many Americans already embrace. Nearly 60% of U.S. households report that at least one of their residents has gone camping, and it’s an American pastime that many families hold dear. Some medical experts have even gone so far as to say that camping should be prescribed to treat stress. And as anyone who’s ever scrolled through social media feeds or receives emails on their phone knows, our gadgets aren’t helping us in that regard. But camping might: research has found that 77% of campers are satisfied with their quality of life, as compared to 59% of non-campers. The Camping and Caravanning Club found that 93% of people who camp agree that this activity can make you feel happier. And while 57% of non-campers say they’re stressed or anxious on an average day, only 35% of campers say the same.
But of course, camping won’t solve all your problems. And camping without any technology at all could cause some issues — if you’re unfortunate enough to become hurt or lost during your trip. Which is why many families are trying to figure out ways to stay safe without spending their trip immersed in technology. You can instate a no-phones-allowed rule during your trip and gather up these devices to ensure no one is too tempted. If you have cell phone service, you can always arrange to check in with someone back home once a day. Making a concerted effort to cut down on technology use during your trip might be hard for some family members, but they might also feel relieved.
Still, you need to keep these devices on-hand and ensure you’re prepared in case of an emergency. One of the most efficient and greenest ways to do this is by using solar technology. There are iPhone solar battery cases, which will power your phone by harvesting any kind of light (even on cloudy days). There are also solar panel power banks, which work with a variety of devices and allow you to give your gadgets a boost wherever you are. Solar recharging kits work very much the same way. Of course, there are external battery packs and generators you can purchase, but solar options are becoming more affordable and are generally pretty convenient, as long as you remember to leave them in a spot where they can gather the light. And obviously, they’re the greenest option.
It’s not always easy to disconnect from technology, particularly if you’re used to scrolling aimlessly on a near-constant basis. But if you can balance your connection to nature with your emergency connection to the outside world, your family camping trip will be a memorable one that can reduce stress without posing a safety risk.