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Parent Punishment?

If Six Flags banned you from using your CrackBerry, would you still take the kids?

That's just the experiment that's going on in a theme park in Britain. Alton Towers Resort has roller coasters and other rides, shows, characters and a water park ... all the requisite family fun activities for the summer. What it wants gone are parents' PDAs. And so, from May 25 until June 1, the park's "PDA police will be onsite to enforce the ban and any adult caught using a PDA whilst at the Resort will be asked to report to one of five 'PDA Drop Off Zones' where they can safely leave their PDA's for the day. If the scheme is successful, it will be introduced full time."

The park's reason? The point of going there is to take a break and have good, wholesome family fun. Multitasking with work takes away from the experience. What amazes me most about the experiment is that Disney didn't come up with it first!

Those PDAs truly are a miracle and a curse all mixed into one. Without the "constant on" contact with work, some family vacations might not happen. But the focus on the little handheld means little Johnny might be waving at Mom or Dad from the coaster, only to see a head bent over not paying attention.

Where do you stand on this one? Do you bring your BlackBerry or other PDA to amusement parks and on family outings and vacations or do you leave it home?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  May 27, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Relationships
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This seems a little ridiculous. I mean, obviously it's hard to simultaneously enjoy an amusement park whilst (this IS in Britian...) plucking away at your crackberry, but why does the park give a crap if I enjoy it or not?

Also, what's the park's answer to those whose crackberry is also their cellphone? That's how people meet up nowadays. Personally, I can't see the park's interest in their patrons' PDAs.

Posted by: Bob | May 27, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

They can institute the rule, but the consumer may decide not to attend their park.

If someone wishes to use their crackberry all day, so be it, they are the ones missing out on life. I suggest ignoring the bores and having a good time no matter where you are.

Posted by: Get Real | May 27, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Get Real. Not sure why a theme park cares what legal activities its patrons are engaged in provided they pay the entry fee. More of the nanny state . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 27, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Hey PARK, I paid my money to get in , MYOFB.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 27, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

That'd be a dealbreaker for me and my husband. First, we do use our Blackberries to communicate with each other (cheaper than calling, esp. when out of our home zone).

Second, that's our business. Sometimes it makes the difference between going and not going at all, to be able to be in touch with work. And often (gasp) we are keeping in touch about serious health issues extended family members have.

Posted by: Shandra | May 27, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

If the parents are using their devices and ignoring and forgetting to discipline their kids, then they ARE impacting on other's enjoyment of the park. I know we've all seen kids running wild, destroying property and knocking over old people, while mom chats on the phone. If that's the incentive behind this law then I support it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 27, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Really? Six Flags can dictate what kind of cellphone people use in their parks? If they're going to institute a ban, it should be across the board.

Posted by: KateNonymous | May 27, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

The whole advantage of having a cell phone at an amusement park is for me to be able to call my wife as she takes the older one on the Insanometer that the little one is done on the buttercup ride. Take that away from us and we will probably not go at all for the safety of our children. I got separated from my parents as an 11 year old and I never enjoyed the rest of that day. I refuse to put my kids through that.

Posted by: Dcer | May 27, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I think what people are missing is that it's not *all* cell phones, just PDAs. And I think there is something to the argument that the people with PDAs are more likely to be absorbed in said PDA than your average cell phone user might be, due to the capabilities of email and the like (and the fact that most businesses won't issue one to their employees unless they expect to use it as a "leash" of sorts and have them available 24/7).

As I understand it, you *can* use an ordinary cell phone in the park.

That said, I can see their thought, and I'm inclined to agree with that thought (put down the damn thing and have fun with your kids instead of doing work all day), but I do think they're overstepping on enforcing it -- people should be free to ruin their own vacations as they choose.

Posted by: FWIW | May 27, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

As FWIW said, learn to read you fools. It's PDAs not cell phones.

Posted by: Anon | May 27, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I understand their desire, but it just doesn't work out. Many PDAs are cellphones these days and it wouldn't be right to take them away. Not only does it help keep the family in touch at the park, but perhaps they are waiting for calls from family in the hospital but have had this one trip planned for a long time.

If they are interfering with others enjoyment or their lack of attention to the kids is, then obviously, kick them out. But using a PDA does not do any such thing.

However, I'd be ok with huge signs posted that "If you can't stop using your PDA for work while you're here, you've got problems."

Posted by: Liz D | May 27, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with this from an enforcement standpoint but someone who uses their crackberry at a park needs help. I actually went camping with a guy and his son and he was busy typing on his crackberry the whole time. I felt very sorry for his son. Pretty obvious where his heart lied. We never invited them out camping again.

Posted by: just say no | May 27, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I love this idea! Anything that gives me back-up support with keeping my employer out of my family life!

I'm very hard-nosed about what I will and won't do for work. They'd love to get more and more, and more(!) of my time, and I just don't want that. I don't care about getting a promotion or a huge raise either. So, the laptop goes home *ONLY* when I have a specific need (a Saturday morning systems test that doesn't have to be supported from the office), the cell phone is left on vibrate and mostly ignored, and lots of family week ends are spent in remote places where there's no cell reception anyway.

If amusement parks take away my cell (or a blackberry, which I've avoided having to accept from my employer, so far), that's one more place I can go with my kids, and tell my bosses honestly, "Sorry, I won't be available, the place I'm taking the kids doesn't allow cell phones."

Supporting me, being able to be attentive to my kids during my time with them, sounds like a winner to me.

Posted by: Sue | May 27, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I'd pay extra for amusements (park, theater, restaurant, beach, etc.) if cell phones and other always-connected devices were banned. The world got on just fine without them prior to the last 25 years or so, and it would get on just fine without them now. Having people around me 'working' while I'm trying to relax takes some of the fun out of it for me.

Posted by: Bill | May 27, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"I understand their desire, but it just doesn't work out. Many PDAs are cellphones these days and it wouldn't be right to take them away. Not only does it help keep the family in touch at the park, but perhaps they are waiting for calls from family in the hospital but have had this one trip planned for a long time."

That describes us.

I have a BB for work, but it is my primary cell phone as well; the same is true for my husband. Because phone calls on our plans cost more but we have basically unlimited data transfer, we've 'trained' everyone to text or email us first.

The BB is a compromise for getting flex time and being able to occasionally take an afternoon to take my child to the zoo. I don't work fewer hours, but I actually can be home or out at the park more.

I disagree that BBs are somehow inherently worse than cell phones. One of the reasons I like mine is that I don't have to be talking out loud while on the train and disturbing people around me, and I don't have to worry about missing a call if the message is right there for me to deal with in a few minutes.

And frankly, forgetting to discipline one's kids at the park is not a cell phone issue - I see plenty of parents letting their kids run wild without 'em.

I think a lot of the distain for Blackberries is just the in thing for a particular crowd to diss.

Posted by: Shandra | May 28, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I would never bring such an item to an amusement park. Cell phones seem like a good thing to have to keep track of lost people but no one really needs to keep track of work business during one theme park day.

Although I really don't know why six flags would care. As long as your spending your money and not disturbing the other guests, it seems OK to have one in the park. But they have a right to make whatever rules they want. The consumer can always choose to frequent another theme park.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 28, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I think the rule is poorly thought out, because blackberrys ARE cellphones for so many people, but I think that the park's concerns are valid, if the unstated objective is that parents are not WATCHING their kids, or paying attention to what their kids are doing. Amusement parks are scary places for kids who look up and realize that they don't know where their parents are. Why make it easier for the parents to lose their kids?

Posted by: Kat | May 28, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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