Parents want their children to learn independence and teamwork at summer camp. However, a survey conducted by T-Mobile finds that they are divided on a ban on mobile phones at summer camp

  • Two-thirds of parents say that they do not need to communicate with their children at summer camp
  • More than 10% of parents expect to communicate extensively with their kids at summer camp, some up to several times a day
  • Mobile phones at summer camp hinder the establishment of friendships and paradoxically increase homesickness, a therapist says 

Prague, 24 June – Those who would expect that most parents require daily contact via mobile phone with their children at summer camp will be disabused of that notion by a survey[1] conducted by T-Mobile. Two-thirds of parents said that they basically do not need to communicate with their children while they are at summer camp. Most parents do not require an available Wi-Fi network for their children. The grown-ups still perceive summer camp as an opportunity for children to learn independence and teamwork and to live without modern technologies, including mobile phones.

This attitude corresponds to the respondents’ memories of summer camps when they were children. One-third say that they only wrote once to their parents during the entire three-week camp, whereas only 29% claim that they wrote three times or more. As expected, more letters and postcards were sent by girls (40% of female respondents) than boys (22% of male respondents). Similar responses were given in relation to visits by parents: 63% of respondents said that their parents did not to visit them even once at camp and 30% mentioned only one parental visit. 

We have found that modern times have not changed parents’ way of thinking. They want their children to enjoy summer camp similarly as they once did. They also appreciate that their children will have a break from modern technologies and will spend time with children of the same age off-line,” says Martina Kemrová, Corporate Communications Manager at T-Mobile. Sixty-eight percent of parents can imagine that they would not be in contact with their children via mobile phone at all during summer camp. Another 12% would not have any problem with it in justified cases. Only 7% of parents are used to being in touch with their kids several times a day. Most parents (60%) do not even support access to a Wi-Fi network. Only 25% of parents find freely available internet access at summer camp as useful and 15% have no opinion on this issue. 

Do mobile phones belong at summer camp?

The survey reveals that for nearly 55% of parents it is sufficient if they receive a message from their children that they arrived at the camp safe and sound and, if needed, are contacted by the camp counsellor. Only 15% of parents would like to be in touch with their kids at least once a day and more than 10% of parents expect to communicate extensively with their children, some up to several times a day. However, this is perceived as a problem by camp counsellors and psychologists. 

Frequent communication with parents can be rather harmful to children at summer camp. “Mobile phones distract children, who are then unable to concentrate on the present moment at camp,” confirms therapist Lucian Kantor, adding: “When leaving for summer camp, children should leave their mobile phones at home because the purpose of camp is to establish relationships with their peers and teach them to communicate within a group. I have this opinion not only as a family therapist but also as a long-time participant at children’s summer camps and trainer of people working with teams of children.” 

Tradition but also GPS technologies

In spite of that, today’s summer camp must cope with the introduction of technologies. “Our application says that children are not allowed to have any electronic devices with them at summer camp. They can thus thoroughly enjoy the event and better cope with homesickness. We have 20 simple shared phones that can only make calls and send text messages. These phones are given to group leaders for various games and activities,” says Vít Kubíček, manager of the Středisko Radost (“Joy Centre”) camp in the Eagle Mountains. 

Scouts share a similar approach. “We believe that parents sign their children up for Scouts because the programme develops their independence and sense of responsibility, and they are therefore prepared to give them space for that without excessive control,” explains Barbora Trojak, spokesperson of Junák, the Czech Scout programme. Scouts use modern technologies during the school year, whether for maps, weather forecasts, geocaching, route planning or identification of plants. However, since most Scout camps are organised in the countryside and without electricity, the use of technologies is limited. “The approach of Scout troops to mobile phones varies. Often, parents can call the camp at a certain time, but rather speak with the counsellors. An agreement that boys and girls can switch their mobile phones on at a certain time of the day, during the midday break, for example, can certainly work at certain camps,” adds Trojak. 

Interest in summer camp has declined compared to the “old times”

Eighty-seven percent of the respondents went to summer camp when they were children, while 27% of them do not send their kids to summer camp now. With those who do, the most popular are summer day camps (39%). Classic summer tent camps are the favourite for 34% of parents; 24% send their children to sports camps. Nine percent of parents send their children to Scout camps. As compared with the three-week summer camp that today’s parents attended, the length of stays at summer camp is now clearly shorter. The children of 78% of parents spend one week or a maximum of two weeks at one or two camps during summer holidays. Only 18% of parents say that their children will experience a three-week or longer adventure away from home – but at several different camps. The children of only 4% of parents go to one three-week summer camp.

[1] The survey was conducted in June 2019 by the agency Ipsos on a sample of 525 respondents (238 women and 287 men) from the entire Czech Republic.

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T-Mobile Czech Republic, a member of the international telecommunications group Deutsche Telekom, has almost 6.2 million customers, the number-one operator in the Czech market. T-Mobile is an integrated operator: in addition to telecommunications services, it offers comprehensive ICT solutions not only for companies, but also for other organizations and individuals. It provides outstanding services in the high-speed network, which was proved repeatedly by benchmark testing performed by umlaut (former P3) with Best-in-Test seal.

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