Should I Let My Kid Take Their Phone to Summer Camp?

Should I Let My Kid Take Their Phone to Summer Camp?

The yearly summer break is around the corner, and kids are excited to gear up for their favorite summer camp. On the other hand, parents are debating whether to let their children take their phones to camp. Many are mindful of the increasing social interactions, distractions, and negative impact of a smartphone.

Parents want their kids to learn new things, have fun in physical activities, and form social bonds with other kids instead of depending on the internet for social interaction. Fortunately, summer camp provides invaluable enrichment without the saturation of electronic devices. The activities include sports, art, educational programs, and outdoor games.

Most summer camps used to have a strict ‘no phone policy’ and wanted kids to immerse themselves in the natural environment rather than a digital one. However, for parents, it was stressful thinking about their child being bullied by a peer or an adult.

Bullying is prevalent everywhere, particularly in sleepaway camps, as discussed in a report by USA Today. A bully might even take advantage of the no-phone policy and abuse children at will. Now cell phone usage is increasing in summer camps, so most have a defined cell phone policy.

However, with this shift, parents are divided. Some see the benefit of their child having a phone for emergencies or simply staying connected, while others worry about the potential downsides.  It can be a tough call! To help you decide, let’s weigh the pros and cons of not allowing phones at summer camp.

The Advantages of Not having a Smartphone at Camp

Summer camp is a favorite American tradition where millions of kids frolic for fun, games, and learning. It is also the only screen-free place for kids these days.

Not having a smartphone may seem like a dystopian concept for Gen-Z and Alpha kids, and most are reluctant to take a technology break. However, summer camp presents an ideal platform for children to improve their physical fitness, mental intuition, social skills, creative intellect, and problem-solving skills.

A research study states that summer camps make kids resilient and develop skills that last for a lifetime. This happens as children take on new challenges, whether physical activities like sailing or archery, making new friends, or coping with unpredictable situations. Camping and being outdoors present an opportunity to escape from the ubiquity of tech and daily grind.

Here is how a child can benefit from cell phone-free summer camp

Meaningful Connection and Communication

There is no denying that people communicate more frequently these days with social apps. Kids are no different, and they do communicate more frequently than adults, but it’s not face-to-face.

At camp, with the phones tucked away, kids will connect and communicate with each other without digital means.

Moreover, spending excessive time on social media increases the risk of cyberbullying, stalking, and exploitation. In addition, the children’s mental health is also at risk. Children can easily prevent that and, instead, interact with fellow campmates and socialize at a deeper level.

Learning and Personal Development

A recent study by Pew Research details the widespread screen time of kids on devices such as smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and televisions. When faced with a question or problem, almost all kids search for solutions online without much effort. In summer camp, when faced with a challenge, a child has to use their intuition and knowledge to reach the solution.

Unplugging at the camp allows the kids to take on unfamiliar tasks and competitions and work independently or in a team to solve them. There is an opportunity for them to learn through trial and error instead of using an online resource for help.

Less Screen Time

A staggering 93% of teens use social media and spend considerable time on numerous apps and platforms. Your child will likely post on Snapchat, share photos on Instagram, comment on Facebook, scroll through X, and send incessant messages on WhatsApp daily

When not involved in these activities, kids develop what experts call FOMO (fear of missing out), and breaking away from this habit is difficult.

With no cell phone usage or social media activity at the camp, kids have time to unwind and participate in dozens of purposeful activities. Some games are those that children seldom get a chance to play throughout the year. The child can improve confidence and find satisfaction instead of a few status and photo likes on social networks.

The Disadvantages of Not Keeping a Smartphone

Most American Camp Association (ACA) accredited camps provide guidelines for cell phone, internet, and social media usage. Many popular day and overnight camps have a ‘no phone’ policy. The management believes the purpose of summer camp is to help teens escape the constant stimuli of digital tech. It can only happen if there is no access to a cell phone.

But this can have repercussions. Here are some more disadvantages of not allowing cell phone use at camps

No Communication in Times of Emergency

The biggest downside of kids not having smartphones is the lack of communication in times of emergency. During physical activity or games, the child can get injured, or there is an emergency at home that parents want their kid to know about.

Most summer camps have systems that ensure communication is possible when needed. However, apart from emergencies, a child has no way to interact with a parent if they are not having a good time and have to face constant bullying. Also, bullying causes embarrassment, and the child may want to share it with the parents instead of the camp staff.

No Pictures and Fewer Options for Creativity

Phones are a distraction, but modern ones have diverse features that children can use positively. For example, a child who loves photography wants to take scenic pictures of the outdoor activity they perform, whether it’s kayaking or trekking.

 They may also meet with fellow enthusiasts who can show them tools of the built-in camera they have never used before. But without a cell phone, a child may be deprived of enhancing their talent and skills.

Should My Kids take their Phones to Summer Camp?

Considering all factors, including dangers and how connected everything is over the internet, breaking kids away from it might do more harm than good. It is more likely that when kids return from summer camp, they will resume their same habits.

It would serve your kids better if they learned how to balance physical and digital activity, and for this reason, you should allow them to take their phones to summer camp. However, you must still prepare them for this. Here’s what you need to do:

Let them Know the Camp Rules

Almost all the summer camps have rules for participation. The rules include the general guidelines for the kids and cover the do’s and don’ts. As a parent, you must ensure the child reads and understands those rules. Some of those are:

  • No cell phone use during an activity
  • Avoid sharing personal details and information with other campers
  • No abusive or offensive language

Communication with Camp Management

Interacting with the camp’s management is key to ensuring your child has a fantastic time. In addition, discuss the amenities and features; ask relevant questions about security and cell phone usage.

You must also fill out the required medical forms and provide dietary instructions. It is also important to establish lines of communication in times of emergency and know pick-up and drop-off times. If your kid is going to an overnight camp, then you need to be mindful of how to make the stay pleasurable.

Install a Monitoring App

The best thing a conscientious parent like you can do is install a monitoring app on their phone.

XNSPY has versatile parental controls that can keep you informed about your kids’ cell phone usage. Some of those controls are:

  • GPS tracking to locate the kid in real-time and view the location history
  • IM (Instant Messaging) monitoring that gives access to chat threads and view to messages and media exchanged on a dozen IM apps
  • Call log management to track all incoming and outgoing calls
  • Remote control access to block certain apps and even lock the phone when the kid is in camp
  • Screen time management to know the installed apps and the time spent on each app
  • Multimedia access to view all the photos and video saved on the device


With kids addicted to digital devices, a summer camp is an ideal opportunity to unplug and unwind from the hectic school schedule and robust daily routine. Many parents contemplate whether to allow or deny their child to carry a cell phone to camp.

Some stress that children can only immerse themselves in play, discovery, and friendships without the distraction of a cell phone. Conversely, some say keeping a cell phone is necessary to communicate with the kids.

However, each camp has its cell phone usage policy and communicates it to the parents and children before the session commences. A balanced approach involves allowing the kids to carry cell phones after explaining the guidelines and installing a monitoring app on their phones.

XNSPY provides dynamic features for complete parental oversight. The GPS tracking can help you locate the kid at all times, and you can also listen to ambient recordings and check messages and calls through the user dashboard.