Should I ban or should I encourage children playing on their phones?

I’ve been to a camp with my kids and nearly 100 others in various ages. The youngest from about eight years to the oldest around eightteen years. A camp of this size requires ”campparents”, to help and support in all kinds of various situations.
I was one of those campparents.

We were divided into teams of two parents, who ”worked” along a schedule so that we knew where we need to be and all the children knew who they could ask for help. There was everything from playing soccer, football, softball or throw freesbee, or sit inside and play cards or board games, to sitting on the beach to make sure all the swimmers came up alive.

I had not done any ”advertising” for what I do, I had planned a relatively quiet time, just to be with a bunch of kids. And make the best possible for them to have an enjoyable time together.
When there are this many children, there will be crises in all possible variations. Its the way we work.
A parent sat at my table discussing a crisis that was on the rise in his house.
We were divided into different houses and each campparent was responsible for about 10 children. Make sure they went to bed on time and went to their classes on time.

This parent felt that children should seize the day and play with each other instead of playing on their phones.
I agree, when they are at camp, I also think they should nurture the opportunities to play with their old and new friends.
The problem was that this parent wanted to ”ban” them from playing games and wondered how the ban would be delivered. This parent had a plan, and it was simply to ban the game.

I have a different opinion, if you can encourage the behavior you want, you should try it first. If there still is a problem, then a ban can be mentioned.

I described my attitude and the parent launched their own plan.

The day after the parent came back and asked for support. Of course, I am always eager to help. I promised to raise the issue at the earliest opportunity. It was given already at lunch.
I went directly to the children’s table where the whole ”gang” set. One of them played on a phone.

As I sat down, I asked how everything went and how the all did with their classes. If they needed help or assistance with anything. Then when I saw one play on a phone, I pretended I was a little surprised that she chose to play instead of talking and socializing with their friends.
The entire group responded positively.
The player just wanted to finish the game, and I said yes of course . Then I joked a bit more and asked them if it would be okay to hang out instead of playing games on the phone. There are plenty of other games they can play together instead. And if they need help to get started, just ask an adult, or me. I will help them directly.

The group promised to help each other to stay away from phone games the rest of the camp.

The parent who first raised this with me, came back a few days later and told me that there were no more games on their phones in the house.
She was a bit curious as to what I had told them, so I told her.

You reach further with encouragement.

Have a wonderful day.

/ Patric

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