All parents understand the devastating outcomes of cyberbullying, oversharing, and sexting- but few are talking about the ways our devices and connectivity can enrich our lives. Even though we often hear of technology gone bad, we need to take a step back and look at the positive contributions technology can offer our families. In fact, if we harness the power microprocessors and apps bring to the table, we literally have our family members at our fingertips.
Surprisingly,91 percent of today’s parents are logged on and tapped into the social media scene. The reason behind this surge is that technology offers a convenient and frugal way to stay in touch. Raising children and juggling schedules often leaves us short on time which can weaken family bonds. However, all is not lost! Parents can harness technology to benefit our families on many levels.
Using Technology To Keep Families Together
Our love of cell phones, tablets, and devices are often touted to distract us from our daily interactions, jobs, and lives. However, with intentional choices and proactive planning, technology has the potential to benefit our lives and relationships in ways that were unimaginable 20 years ago. The evolving world of social media and connectivity offers us a unique opportunity to organize, simplify, and encourage authentic communication within our lives.
Listed below are ten ways to keep our families together with technology:
1.Look for apps or software that save time and money. There are millions of apps out there that can simplify bill paying, scheduling calendars, and streamlining everyday activities like buying postage or cutting coupons. Like my Grandma always said, “Work smarter, not harder”.
2.Understand the fine print and usage recommendations before giving technology to children. Our devices and apps are not one size fits all. There are minimum age requirements and suggestions to help reduce our exposure to harmful situations that can protect our family’s overall health and well being. By simply following the instructions we can eliminate a large amount of threats lurking behind our glowing screens.
3.Reach out to the seniors in the family and connect the extended family. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles have a lot to offer our youth and this wisdom shouldn’t be squandered. While grandparents wait by silent phones, our children are snapping selfies and liking comments. Introducing senior family members to technology can help bridge the generation gap and encourage easy communication. Take a few minutes to provide the appropriate training and soon you will be sharing, updating, and messaging on a daily basis.
4.Develop a technology contract for the family. Working together, sit down and outline expectations, consequences, and rules that everyone will follow. Taking a few minutes to do this will prevent a lot of bickering and keep everyone on the same page.
5.Take advantage of meal plans or freezer cooking guides. Let other bloggers or professional chefs do all the planning! Just simply download their grocery lists and recipes to save time, money, and a lot of unneeded calls for take-out. This will relieve the nightly stress of wondering what to make for dinner and allow the family to bond over a home cooked meal.
6.Identify zones of the house that will be considered “no technology” areas. By declaring device free areas (like the dinner table, bedrooms, and bathrooms) you will prevent opportunities for inappropriate conduct while providing downtime from all the updating, messaging, and pinging.
7.Turn to the Internet for tools to help with homework or difficult concepts. Every family will probably encounter a difficult school assignment or class project. The beauty of the Internet is that you can access a wealth of knowledge with a simple search. Look for games, apps, mnemonic devices, songs, and study sheets to help master any subject from fractions to fission.
8.Start teaching social media etiquette when a child is young and build on that foundation as they age. Unfortunately, technology does have a dark side with very serious consequences as a result. Most of our sons and daughters begin using the Internet around the age of three, so it is vital to start this process early!
9.Follow local attractions on social media to stay updated on special events, discounts, or free passes. If your family enjoys going to the water park or the art museum you will be able to get inside information about upcoming events and programs. Many public libraries also offer outdoor movie nights, magic shows, or author visits for the public. Staying informed could provide exciting bonding opportunities for the whole family.
10.Know our children’s technology activity. We need to actively monitor who they are interacting with, what sites they frequent, and how much time they are spending online. As parents, we would like to believe our children will come to us if they encounter cyberbullying or online predators, but we need to realize that 70 percent of our kids will hide their activity from parents.
Whether we like it or not, technology is here to stay. We need to pick our battles wisely and challenge ourselves to use our devices to enrich our family life. What is one thing you will do to help keep your family together with technology?
~~Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be~~
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