How does your child plan to spend their summer? Playing video games, hanging out with friends, or playing sports might be at the top of their list. What if they could spend time this summer with a famous astronaut, a world-renowned artist, or a paleontologist who’s discovered dinosaur fossils? Just a few years ago, opportunities like these would be reserved only for the children of the super-wealthy or extremely lucky. With today’s online platforms, however, opportunities like these are available to any child with access to a computer and an internet connection. The opportunities available for children online are amazing, but are virtual summer camps really helpful for children and their development?
The Unique Perks of Virtual Summer Camps
Traditionally, summer has been considered a season of “downtime” for children. The pressures of school were put aside for the easy, breezy days of summer. Although summer still remains a time of relaxation for children, the emergence of digital devices means that many children spend hours of the summer mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching pointless videos. To help overcome the lure of non-educational screen time, parents have begun looking for more productive or educational ways for children to use their digital devices and computers. This is where virtual summer camps offer a helpful resource. Children have the chance to interact with others online in a fun way while still learning and using their screen time wisely. It’s a win-win situation for children and parents.
New Skills: During the school year, children gain new knowledge in all the subjects that they are required to learn: history, science, math, literacy, etc. When summer arrives, however, it offers a chance for them to gain new knowledge and skills in areas they want to learn. Virtual summer camps offer expansive opportunities in this arena. Children can gain skills in all the areas they may not have time for during the school year. Perhaps your burgeoning computer whiz would like to learn to code or do graphic design. Maybe your child, who loves music, would like to take up a new instrument or try singing for a change. Even art fans can learn new techniques of drawing or painting in virtual summer camps. The opportunities available for children to learn new skills are almost endless in an online environment.
Active Minds: Most of us are aware of the “summer slide” in learning that can occur after children have a long break from school. Parents often worry that their children will forget many of the important concepts and knowledge they learned during the school year. Virtual summer camps offer a creative solution to this problem by offering children new, innovative ways to keep their minds active. Instead of the traditional workbooks or reading times to keep children’s minds busy, virtual camps offer more engaging, real-time interactions and learning.
Personal Connections: Just as important as the intellectual benefits, the social perks of virtual summer camps are numerous. Children often miss their friends and social interaction while they are away from school. While it’s true that there are many ways for children to keep in touch with friends online or by phone, making new friends over the summer can be challenging. With virtual camps, the challenges of location or transportation disappear. Children can make friends with other children their age all over the world. This can be especially helpful if your child has specific interests that they do not share with their local friends. In the online environment of camp, children can find friends that share their interests in unique hobbies or skills. Whether it be a particular type of music, artwork, topic (like space or animals), or skill (like sewing or woodworking), a child with almost any interest can find a friend to share it within a virtual camp.
Through these social interactions, children build valuable interpersonal skills that they can use their entire lives. Learning to meet new people, share conversations, and interact positively in an online environment are all 21st-century skills that children need now and will continue to use in the future.
Additionally, a virtual summer camp broadens children’s views to a global perspective. Instead of being reliant on resources or opportunities available in their hometown, a virtual camp opens up the door to possibilities all over the planet. In a virtual camp, children may have opportunities to interact with scientists, artists, or performers that they might never have the chance to see locally.
Flexibility for Parents: While the clearest benefits of virtual camps are for children, the online platform is also very helpful for parents. Parents who work outside the home often struggle to find transportation for children attending an in-person camp. Camp schedules may not fit with their work schedules or other conflicts may arise, especially if multiple siblings are attending different camps. With a virtual camp, parents have no worries about providing transportation or picking up children at a set time. Parents can be more efficient at their own work knowing that their children are keeping their brains active during the summer through an online camp.
Although some parents may be hesitant to allow their children even more time online to attend a virtual camp, it’s clear that this engaging form of online learning is different. Unlike mindless scrolling on social media or wasting hours watching videos, virtual summer camps offer children a way to widen their perspectives and enlighten their minds. Virtual summer camps can be a wonderful complement to children’s fun, in-person summer activities.