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Prior to leaving for Disney we decided as a family not to bring any computing or tablet devices. I tried to talk my wife into letting me bring the Chromebook solely for the purpose of enriching our Disney experience, but once I got "the look" I decided it was in my best interests to leave it at home. We did take our smartphones and allowed our kids to each pack their iPod touches. From a parent's point of view technology really did enhance our vacation experience. Disney has an incredible app that allows you to check the wait times for rides in real time as well as access/change FastPasses and dining reservations. There were also detailed maps and descriptions of all rides and entertainment experiences that allowed us to customize each day based on what our kids wanted to do. The wait time feature alone allowed us to get on more rides during the most popular time to visit Disney World. Each park was jam packed every day, but our technology helped us make the best of it.
Now some of the ride lines were long (45 min or more) especially in the afternoons. We tried to avoid these, but in some cases with the most popular rides we couldn't. This was torture for an eight and nine year old so as parents this is when our kids had access to their iPod Touches. The time then flew by as our kids collaborated on Minecraft while showing us their creations. By the way, all Disney World parks have free WiFi. At other times our kids asked for their devices to take pictures, especially at Animal Kingdom, and create iMovie's of their magical experiences during the vacation. Technology used wisely and with purpose in my opinion.
Then there was me. Just like my kids there were times where access to my technology enhanced my vacation experience. I did check Twitter each day and tweeted a few times, especially when waiting in long lines. It is cool in my opinion to make the best use of even vacation time to learn a little. Twitter has long been my number one tool for professional learning as the main tool to form my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I was also able to keep my email in check during some downtime. For the most part though my phone was used to take pictures on Instagram and cross post to Facebook. This is the point of my post. I choose not to ever disconnect. With the evolution in technology balance becomes key. I learned long ago to never let technology interfere with family time. If there is a need or desire to go cold turkey and disconnect for a period of time then that tells me balance has not be attained yet.
For me technology is a huge part of both my personal and professional life, which is why I embrace it. It is important for everyone to find balance as technology will become even more embedded in our lives in the the coming years. If you find balance when it comes to technology in your life then you will not have to make a decision as to whether or not you need to disconnected.....unless you want to.