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What are some short activities that can be regularly scheduled into family time; to help inject fun, create family memories, and “break out of our routine” a little, during the working week?
Embrace technology and social media as a way to connect with your kids on an entirely different and very personal level while you are physically not with them.
Here is what works for us:
We have a private, closed group on Facebook called ‘fambam’ that has only our immediate family of 5 as members. In this group, we discuss shared social media posts and current event and discuss our weekly schedules and time-off plans. It is always exciting to see what our kids are reading and to share what we are seeing with them too. My eldest kid is in college now so this group serves as our main form of daily, persistent contact with her as a family.
Snapchat has become a communications tool for our kids to share the ‘flavor’ of their experiences with us. It serves as a multimedia walkie talkie that gives us a quick understanding of the situations they place themselves in and the people they interact with most regularly.
My youngest daughter uses Instagram quite a bit and we find that her pictures tell us a lot about her interests. Things we might otherwise not know about her if we weren’t part of her follower group. A picture with a caption is the simplest unit of social media expression other than just text, but that picture is often worth a lot more in terms of context and emotional charge.
My wife and I sit in the family room with our kids while they take turns beaming content to the TV via Chromecast. My youngest watches Bethany Mota DIY videos with my wife while my middle daughter will share Jenna Marble’s latest episode with all of us. Adding Internet to your TV time automatically upgrades the quality of the viewing experience while providing much more context and opportunity for discussion than regular shows. Once a year I take my younger kids to Vidcon so they can interact with their favorite Youtubers in person.
We have relatives all over the world and our kids can interact with anyone of them at anytime for free using Facetime. There is no excuse for your kids to be estranged from even far off family members in this digital age.
If you do not text your kids, you are failing to communicate with them on the medium that is otherwise used exclusively by the people they care the most about. Texting is replacing talking and for good reason. It is direct and efficient. Kids value this because they do not want to be judged for their informal speech and grammar. They just want to say the most using the least.
Using social media with your kids also allows you to quickly notice which friends are the most involved with them. This leads to an opportunity to talk about each friend using their comments, pictures, and posts as an excuse.
Prior to the ubiquitous availability of broadband Internet and smartphones, I was often a poor parent because things like business travel disconnected me from my family. Now that my kids are older and have caught up with technology, I find that I am involved in their lives on a daily basis. It is a good feeling because we stalk our kids with their permission and blessing. I am sure they restrict certain content from our viewing, but even that is a good thing because it shows us that they are aware that their posts have consequences.
Embrace social media and digital technology and you will be closer to your children than if you didn’t. Along the way you can teach them a lot of things about people and subjects while learning what is truly important to them on a personal level.
Sanjay is the founder and CEO of CrowdGather, and is also the co-author of 2 medical textbook chapters on addiction treatment. See more of his Quora posts here:
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