Sunday, April 12, 2015

To Disconnect or Not

I just returned from a much needed eight day Disney World vacation with my wife and two kids.  It truly was a magical time where we spent literally twelve or more straight hours together each day laughing, enjoying rides, and engaging in conversation on hundreds of topics.  As the vacation leader I made sure the alarm went off at 5:40 AM each morning so we could get to each of the four parks early to avoid the lines and heat. Early on I took some heat of my own for this from my wife, but boy did it pay off.  Each day we rode the most popular rides numerous times by 11:00 AM and then got to relax by the pool, stay in the park to enjoy more rides, or even take family naps. My wife eventually complimented me on ensuring that the kids had the best experience possible. This vacation was like no other as each of us was totally exhausted at the end of every day, but we happily pressed on as Disney really does have such a magical appeal.  

Image credit: http://media.bizj.us/view/img/703801/itproducts-top5e*304.jpg

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.

8 comments:

  1. I did the same thing on our Disney trip last summer...pictures and the app during the day at the parks and email and twitter at night to check in and process. I think it's like a diet - you could eliminate all bad food, but eventually you will fail and feel awful. Instead, moderation and balance is key.

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    1. I love the diet analogy. Couldn't agree with you more Aaron.

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  2. I disconnected except for using Twitter on IPhone during lag time when on my vacations to Hawaii and Alaska. I only used my laptop on a few nights to download photos from my camera to ensure pictures were saved in more than one place. It was a pleasure not to be tied to emails and having to respond, and disconnecting, at least partially, gave me time to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings. Not exactly Disney, but these were natural wonders of our environment. With the glaciers and fjords of Alaska evaporating, it was more important than ever to enjoy them in the moment. And for the sunsets over the ocean in Hawaii, need I see more.

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    1. During lag time is where I found myself using my technology for professional purposes. Social media makes it so easy to learn and connect during these brief stretches.

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  3. Hello Eric - it sounds like you had a terrific getaway with your family - a much deserved break. I never completely disconnect, and I agree that a healthy balance is the key. I like to pack light when I travel. Think of all of the things we don't have to pack when we bring our smart phones - my list exceeded 20 items when I gave up thinking about it. More importantly, my brain seems to think more freely and creatively when I am on vacation. As a result, this is when achieve greater flow when writing for my blog. Knowledge is power, information is helpful, connected technology has enhanced every one of my vacation adventures!

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    1. My bag was definitely much lighter :)

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  4. Balance is the key for me too, I choose to delete my Instagram and facebook apps from my phone during holidays to restore the balance. Sometimes I find they suck too much of my time with pointless scrolling, they're great social tools but when the balance isn't right they waste my time. Food apps such as urban spoon and trip advisor regularly enhance a travel experience in an unfamiliar city with my wife, we cut down 'where are we going to eat" time and increase "this is a great little restaraunt in the side streets" time. Balance is the Key.

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    1. To be honest when I am on vacation or during the weekends I rarely scroll through FB and Instagram. Those are times when I just want to capture and share the precious moments I am having with family and friends. Yelp is my go-to app to find restaurants when on vacation or traveling for work. I have found so many amazing places as a result.

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