10th September 2011 | James Cove, Austria
Have you ever tried to go a few days without logging on to the internet, using your mobile or listening to an I-pod? Our content editor and his 12-year old son are trying hard to keep the electronic world at bay as they visit the Austrian Alps.
It was easy to begin with.
In fact it was a blessed relief simply to turn everything off, but slowly it begins to gnaw away at you. Whether that supposedly important email had come through, how the statistics on PlanetSKI were going and whether there were some stories the news team back in the office was missing.
Was there more rioting in the UK? How had hurricane Irene blown itself out? What were the football scores?
We started by finishing everything from our online life at Innsbruck airport as we began our cold turkey from social media and the like.
A hike up to a remote mountain hut without access to the outside world was relaxing in the extreme, but now we are back at out hotel in the ski resort of Obergurgl the temptation is there.
All poor old Max wants to know is how Liverpool did and when Gerrard will be fit but I am being strong.
Oscar Wilde once said “I can resist everything except temptation,” and I’m beginning to understand what he meant. I don’t actually want to have a look at the internet but because I can’t do it then I want to do it more and more.
Not only do I have my lap top with me, just in case, but each time we walk to our room we pass the internet room of the hotel with a couple of inviting screens. I feel like an alcoholic passing a pub.
Max has his I-pod, DS and mobile with him but I am reminded of some research I saw just before we left the UK.
The school trips provider, JCA, surveyed 500 teachers who concluded that excessive use of social media damaged a child.
“This research clearly demonstrates that students up and down the country are spending more and more time using social media,” said a spokeswoman for JCA, Janie Burt.
“Rather than relying on life experiences, educational travel and face to face interaction with others, children are becoming obsessed with social networking and this is shaping their attitudes instead.
Educational Psychologist, Kairen Cullen, went even further.
“There is a danger that these virtual interactions filter out problematic or emotional issues, which in real life, support social and emotional development.
Social networking has become so much the norm, for adults and children alike, that non-participation can result in feeling excluded or even socially ostracised.
The time invested in social media versus real life interpersonal interaction can detract from that available for real human contact and contribute to delayed and/or distorted social and emotional development.”
It is also claimed that children who are online at every available opportunity are less willing to communicate with adults
Now I have a healthy disregard for surveys but common-sense tells me kids shouldn’t be on their computers and phones all the time and that a few days without the connection should be good. It is certainly the same for adults.
The trouble is that it is hard to resist in today’s world.
Max and I busied ourselves with pursuits like archery, horse riding and outdoor sports, as you can see from this earlier story and video on PlanetSKI, but after a few days the need to look at the internet and access our phones began to take over.
It was like an itch that simply wouldn’t go away.
Like Oscar Wilde we could last no more and succumbed. One night after dinner we hit the internet. There were no emails or messages that could not have waited, but it was re-assuring just to know. I deleted many and organised the rest so there would be less to do when I got back to the office. I checked PlanetSKI and found all the stories that needed to be done were, including a ski angle on Tropical Storm Irene written by one of our reporters.
Max found out Liverpool had won and Gerrard would be back soon. He uploaded a few photos on Facebook and heard what his mates were up to on their holidays. We lost out to temptation for just over an hour and afterwards felt much better for it.
The next day as we looked round a re-created village dedicated to the Stoneage man, Otzi, whose 5,000 year old body was found 20 years ago in high above the valley we were in after a glacier had retreated. He hadn’t needed Facebook, Twitter and email.
Max loved it and even tried his band at baking bread.
We saw how stoneage man made fire too.
And was we looked round this fascinating exhibition I didn’t wonder if there were any emails that needed responding to and the thought of looking at the internet was gone. An itch had been scratched.
Next time we will do a similar thing but perhaps just not make it a rule. Maybe we will allow ourselves an hour a day. Or perhaps a bit longer.
For the spirit of the mountains
Holiday Fact box:
The Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl (4-star) offers an activity programme for children from 4-12 year olds including archery, horse riding courses, visit to working farms, nature hikes, marmot safaris, painting and handicrafts workshops, face painting and games. Also included is a guided walk with overnight stay in the Ramolhaus mountain hut at 3,006m.
The hotel also has an indoor swimming pool and heated outdoor pool 1200m² ‘Glacier’ spa area with saunas, steam room, whirlpool, fitness room, relaxation area and it offers an exceptional cuisine with many ingredients sourced from the hotel’s own farm and gardens.
Prices are from £756 per adult, first child travels free and second child price is £215 and includes return flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck, transfers, 7 nights half board and all activities as listed above. Crystal Summer www.crystalsummer.co.uk or call 0871 230 8180.