Technology has changed both the way we travel and the way we keep our children entertained. Gone are the days of adolescents and teenagers staring out the window exclaiming “Are we there yet?” Whether traveling by car, plane, or train, the advent of mini computers, tablets, smart phones, portable gaming systems, in-car entertainment, and a universe of apps has altered the experience for parents traveling with teens.
Some of the best devices to keep your teens occupied include the iPod, iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, and PSP gaming system. The first four are multi-function devices, good for both communication and gaming. They tend to be the devices of choice for today's tech savvy teenager. The top game for the i-devices is Angry Birds, a favorite of kids both young and old. Wired Traveling Teen — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
In addition to electronic devices, teenagers are lured by the wonders and vastness of the internet. As long as they can find a signal along with their 3G wireless-enabled device of choice, you’ll have a happy and quiet passenger. A study has shown that American teenagers average anywhere between 16 and 31 hours a week online.
So how can you keep your teenager connected while traveling so that they can continue surfing and stay out of your hair? There are several ways. The least expensive but most unreliable way is to find a hot spot. When you're driving, this is almost impossible but if you're flying, you should be able to pick up one in the airport. Some airports, like Miami International, will charge you for access but others like Baltimore Washington International, provide free wireless access. In addition, more and more airlines are beginning to offer in-air internet service for an additional fee.
The other option you have for your teen is to turn your cell phone into a hot spot. Several cellular phones provide this as an add-on service for an additional monthly fee. A good cellular company will prorate you for the days you don't use, should you only need the service for a week.
And the easiest option is to order direct service for the device, provided by your cellular company for an additional fee. Teens don't come cheap these days and neither does their entertainment. However, when traveling with them, you have to decide what's worth more to you: your peace or your wallet?