It’s been a while since i traveled in the back of Dad’s car to my Grandmother’s house. I loved visiting her. But it has to be said, I wasn’t very keen on the 1 1/2 hour journey. Why, you ask? Nothing to do! Well, I say nothing, but the reality was that my Mom made me and my younger brother play all sorts of games like, I spy with my little eye, first letter of the license plate, and counting the arms and legs on English pub signs!

Actually, it was quite fun for the trip there, but going home was brutal! Fast forward to the present. “Dad, is my PSP charged? ” “Mom, have you got my
Nano? Family Story App ” “Where’s the DVD player? ” “No-one’s using my Touch, so why can’t I?! ” The digital age is upon us and our kids are all over it. The trip to Gran’s has become just another brief span in time – an opportunity to listen to music, watch a movie or play a game – in complete isolation from the rest of the family!

But now, when we get there, no one wants to get out of the car! Heck, we could drive all the way to Maine and they’d still be happy! At least before, we couldn’t wait to get the heck out of the car to see Gran! Now we have a bunch of over stimulated kids on our hands who’ve totally forgotten the reason we were in the car in the first place! The adrenaline rush can then translate into ugly behavior when the device has to be turned off, and then of course it lingers throughout the visit and that’s not pleasant for anyone, especially Granny, who was really looking forward to spending some quality time with her ‘adorable’ grandchildren. Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it!!

Well, the good news is there are now options to the adrenaline pumping games, that are a bit more appropriate for those particular journeys, and often they utilize the same devices your kids play on all the time. One that my younger kids really enjoy is MobiStories. These are online digital picture books – traditional picture books digitized, but with easy to follow text, narration, (often by kids, which my kids love) and even music and sound effects to enhance the overall experience, making it kind of like a movie – book. If you have 1 – 8 year olds, this one is for you.

The next product is Amazon’s Kindle, which I’m sure you’ve all heard about. This digital book reader is everything it’s touted to be and is aimed at the older kids as well as adults. There are thousands of e-books available online, and some of the classics are even free. You can download them directly to the reader from wherever you are using the built in wireless 3G network. They are a little pricey, but well worth the convenience.

Finally, you should also check out iphone apps. There are tons of novels available here too for both the iphone and iTouch which double as readers, and again, many of the classics are free. Just don’t let those little rascals tell you that they’re going to read a book on the device, but then silently switch to an adrenaline-pumping game or movie which might be more suitable for a different trip.

So, take the bull by the horns and explore these fabulous new options for those lengthy journeys with the kids. We may frown at some of the products the digital era has forced upon us, but if you look hard enough there are always jewels to be found! Heck, they may even increase literacy more than I Spy. Have a great trip!

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