I’ve been there. You’re packing for the summer car trip. You know that the destination will be amazing but the journey itself may present some challenges. So in order to keep the peace, you dole out the devices. Perhaps you embrace the moment for yourself with a special audiobook or podcast. Everyone in the family is set up with their preferred media, and the trip is more than manageable – it’s downright pleasant. Victory!
And yet, there’s this lingering thought, “We are mere inches away from each other hurtling through space and time – shouldn’t we be engaging with each other in some way?” To which I offer this proposal: On one of those devices, set a timer to go off every 15 minutes, half hour, whatever feels right for an interruption. When the alarm rings, headphones come down and someone gets to choose an activity. Sing a silly song, scan the license plates around you, find the letters of the alphabet in billboards, invent a story about another carload. Engage the people who are near (literally) and dear to you. Have your moment. Then return to your regularly scheduled program. Another victory!
And if you’re really lucky, you get to hear the cry only heard on car trips: “Mom, he’s looking at me! Make him stop!”
Just in time for summer travel season, the PBS KIDS Video app allows downloads of episodes of favorite shows. Streaming not required! Check your device’s app store for an update.
Benjamin Kramer, PhD, is the director of education for Austin PBS.