When my colleague suggested that I enter a “Father of the Year” competition, I thought she was crazy. I worked 80-100 hours a week as an entrepreneur, and traveled, which severely limited my time with my eight and ten-year-old kids. Without my knowledge, my colleague entered my name in the National Father’s Day Council competition and a few months later, I found myself on a podium, in San Francisco, flanked by my son, daughter and wife, accepting the award.
This was a life-changing event that prompted some deep reflection. With my two kids now 27 and 29, time and COVID have evolved my outlook on what it means to remain connected as a family.
Time is fleeting and our cherished family connection, with support, love, and wisdom from our parents and grandparents, can vanish in a heartbeat.
The past year’s lockdown has revealed the incredible value of video communication; it keeps companies in business, schools in session, and keeping remote family members together. We’ve also learned that we’re more adaptable to virtual connection than we thought.
According to a recent study conducted by AARP, 71% of grandparents of children 5 years old and under regularly video chatted with their grandchildren, with 40% doing so daily or a few times per week. And 82% of grandparents say they enjoy video chats with their young grandchildren, and the more frequently they’ve done so, the greater the enjoyment and stronger the emotional bond.
With backgrounds in innovative technology, my wife and I considered even more powerful, tech-enabled ways to feel connected both during a pandemic and beyond. What if we could feel together when we’re not? What if we could become even more connected, both locally and over long distances, than we were pre-pandemic? Done properly, we could also create more free time for mom and dad while helping them facilitate connection between their parents and children.
At my latest company, Kinoo, we are enhancing video chat with augmented reality and some other cool technologies to make it feel like a kid and their grandparent are in the same room, sitting side by side. They can play games and enjoy experiences that are even more fun than being together in person! This might seem like a stretch, but so did the idea of the LeapPad when I invented it in 2008, which went on to help 100 million kids learn to read in the next five years. Ahead of Kinoo’s launch this fall, here are some interim, and preparatory tips for engaging in more meaningful video connection.
1. Set a Schedule
2. Continue Classic Traditions or Create New Ones
3. Engage in Co-Play and Co-Creation
“Why do you have hair?”extremely beneficial
Jim Marggraff is the creator of the transformational and award-winning LeapPad Learning System, and is devoted to applying advanced technologies to evolve human connectedness. He is also the author of How to Raise a Founder With Heart
, which provides parents with a framework for raising children with the skills critical to becoming a good founder, as he is a father of two founders himself. A dedicated and beloved father, Jim was even named Father of the Year by the Father’s Day Council of San Francisco in 2004.