As technology increasingly intrudes on our lives, many parents wonder if these changes are damaging families’ ability to stay close. How can parents compete with text messages from friends, an endless supply of online music, videos and games and the instant availability of information? Here are ways your family can use this technology to grow closer instead of letting it tear you apart.
1. Document Special Family Times
We’re always saving the video camera for a “special occasion” without realizing that every day of our lives is special. Make a habit of using the camcorder or smartphone to shoot a few minutes of footage each week, even if it’s just helping each other cook dinner or play with the dog.
Be sure to regularly download the videos onto a hard drive and back it up. It’s also an excellent idea to email those photos and videos to other family members. In addition to sharing special memories and keeping us close, if grandma has a copy of these images there will be another copy in case of a home fire, flood or other disaster.
2. Enjoy Family Gaming
Family game night doesn’t have to go the way of the dodo with multi-player video games. Instead of breaking out the Monopoly board to another round of, “ugh, not again!” spring for a gaming console where the family can enjoy shooting zombies, racing or pounding each other in a game of NFL football.
Literally, there are video games for every taste. Let each member of the family select a game and take turns playing each other’s games. Chances are, you’ll all learn to appreciate each other’s interests a little more after playing the games together.
3. Plan Family Outings
Tired of going the same places over and over? Download a travel app to find everything from affordable day trips to wonderful week-long vacations. Not only are these apps full of great ideas for places to go, they’re also a great resource for getting coupons and discounts on hotels, restaurants, transportation and tickets to attractions.
4. Share Family Experiences
As kids get older, it’s easy to feel like they’re slipping away. Learn to leverage social networking apps to stay in touch without feeling like you’re intruding. These sites are a great way to share pictures of your daily lives, send out a quick message to make each other laugh or keep each other updated on how an important meeting or a big test went.
5.Keep Track of Family Schedules
For decades, the refrigerator door served as the family calendar, but it wasn’t working very well. After all, it depends on everyone remembering to look at it every day. Along come family scheduling apps where we can keep all our appointments, meetings, activities and special days stored in the cloud.
No matter where family members go, everyone’s schedule is immediately accessible. Once families get in the habit of adding their activities in the calendar, no one ever forgets Johnny’s spelling bee or Suzie’s big soccer game again. These apps are ideal for families with multiple devices like dad’s notebook, mom’s tablet and the kids’ smartphones.
6. Learn About Family Roots
One way to get the family closer today is to visit yesterday’s history. Family tree apps are fun for every age, and the interesting stories you uncover will even interest your most uninterested teenager. Younger kids can help, too, and learn early to appreciate the rich history of where they came from.
With these tech tools, every family can stay close and build stong bonds even in the digital age.