We hear a lot about technology as the bad guy. As parents we love using it. But we also lament the additional strain it puts on our parenting. It presents a myriad of concerns and risks to our kids safety, we compete with it in a ‘no win’ battle for attention and we spend much of our time trying to control the seemingly uncontrollable.
Could we however, take more time recognising and praising the efforts of technology to improve our parenting? After all, even having a phone can make our kids more contactable and give us some pretty healthy peace of mind. We can text them when we want them to head home, we can make sure they got our change of plans about a pick up time and they can even be located via an app when they are too ‘busy’ to answer the phone.
And it isn’t only their safety concerns that have made life easier. Sometimes the very devices that we are often afraid of, can actually help them with the greatest connection of all. The connection they have with us.
Here are 5 ways parents can use technology to make better connections with their kids:
Play Play Play
- Play a game: Playing games with our kids is a great way to have fun, be relevant to their world and have an understanding of the sorts of games they like to play. It can be a real time game that you as a family play, such as a wii game or xbox, it can be an app that you take turns in playing to beat each others score, or it can be an ongoing game such as ‘words with friends’ that you play over time. It doesn’t have to always be scheduled, it can be spontaneous or even whilst waiting in the waiting room of a doctors surgery. The distraction of a game itself, can also be all a child needs to open up a little, as they talk more freely about something that may be on their mind.
- Instant message and chat: Whilst this seems an obvious by-product of having kids with internet enabled devices, it doesn’t have to always be about safety and instructions and whereabouts. Being able to chat via a message service or SMS can be another way to help kids open up a little or just enjoy the connection that comes from a means of communication they are most comfortable with. A simple text message to ask them how their day has been, may make all the difference.
Keep it personal
- Facebook family groups: when family are apart, travelling or geographically spread out, then having private family groups can be a great way to keep connections up, share photos, adventures and be a little more personal than you would in your general newsfeeds. Use these groups to help stay connected and share the information, updates and photos only family need to see.
- Start a blog: starting a blog together with your child is another way to use the technology to share experiences on a common ground. It can be creative, it can be casual journaling or it can be similar to one written by my friend Natalie and her daughter Ashlea at A Parallel Connection. Both mother and daughter write about different issues and challenges they face, but getting the different perspectives from the different generations can be a great way to help strengthen those ties.
Get them Teaching
- Get them to teach you something: As parents, much of our role is about teaching our kids certain behaviours, about what is acceptable and not and about giving them the life skills they need to make their way in the world. But our kids have lots they can teach us too. Especially when it comes to technology and their seemingly innate grasp on how to do things, find things and set things up. Getting kids to teach us something makes a great change for them, helps give them confidence and of course, builds on our connection with them.
There are just a few ways we can use the technology, the mediums our kids are so immersed in, and use them to be a positive element to our parenting and our connection.
What are some other ways you can think of that technology can help build better family conenctions?