Article after article has been written about technology coming between families. Who hasn’t heard warnings about moms, dads, and kids sitting at the dinner table texting, rather than talking? Certainly, tech can be a separator. It can also be a connector.
At a time when many household members are social distancing from friends and relatives, people are craving person-to-person contact. That’s where the right gadgets can come into the picture. By leveraging the power of specific devices, everyone can maintain contact without traditional barriers.
If you’ve felt disengaged from your kids, spouse, relatives, or buddies, technology might be a good answer. Consider buying and using any of the following tech-heavy items—and get chatting.
1. Hand the phone to your kids—safely.
Do you ever feel like you wish you could get in touch with your children when they’re waiting for the bus after school? How about when they’re playing in the nearby park? Or when you’re at the office and they’re at home? Texting presents a lightning-fast way to touch base, but it’s not feasible without a smartphone.
That doesn’t mean you have to allow your youngsters unfettered access to the Internet, social media, or dangers of online browsing. Instead, purchase an affordable kids phone that’s a step up from a flip phone but step down from what’s in your pocket.
Just be sure to look for a locked-tight model that doesn’t require you to fool around with parental controls. Many parents are surprised at how easily crafty children can bypass control mechanisms.
2. Invest in a smarter videoconferencing tablet.
Maybe you don’t get the chance to see your children regularly because of shifting work schedules or co-parenting arrangements. Or perhaps you’re a grandparent who lives thousands of miles away from your grandkids. Either way, you’ve probably tried Zoom and other chatting portals. But you know that sometimes the results can be clunky.
To foster a more “here in the room” teleconferencing experience, consider investing in a tablet for video chatting. Though this type of device might seem like an indulgent treat, it’s fairly practical if you can also rely on it for remote work needs. Regardless, you’ll be more inclined to talk over video if the product you use promotes excellent audio and imagery.
3. Indulge in multiplayer games.
Technology fosters more than dialogue. It can also foster a little competitive fun, especially when it comes to multiplayer games. Multiplayer gaming requires an Internet connection and allows players to join in from anywhere. Though some teens and adults engage in multiplayer gaming with strangers, many extended families like to form private groups or leagues.
Keep in mind that multiplayer gaming isn’t the right fit if you have very young children. On the other hand, it’s great for staying in touch with dorm-living college students. Just pick a time to play your favorite popular multiplayer game and let the excitement begin. You’ll be amazed at how much togetherness you can feel when you’re virtually gaming with the people you love.
4. Pick up a pet monitor.
Your furry friends are a part of your family, too. And they miss you when you’re not around. Several studies have shown that when “pet parents” stop working from home, their dogs and cats get stressed. So try to be there without actually being there with a high-technology, app-enabled pet monitor.
Pet monitors aren’t new, of course. Nevertheless, their programming has improved quite a bit over the years. These days, pet monitors enable real-time interaction on a whole new level. Even if your pet seems unmoved by the monitor at first, give the process time. Many pets become accustomed to hearing and seeing their humans throughout the day on a screen. Additionally, you’ll feel more relaxed knowing your fur baby is doing fine—and not getting into too much mischief. (Bonus note: Your whole family may be able to log in and check up on family pets at different times throughout the day.)
5. Spend intentional time watching Netflix with friends.
No shocker: Netflix continues its rise as an entertainment oasis for lots of kids and adults. In fact, you may have a subscription that you use for your TV and devices. Why not make sure you watch your next epic flick or exclusive film as a Netflix Teleparty?
Arranging a Teleparty doesn’t cost anything and sets you up to be able to not just share a movie or show with loved ones, but chat as well. That way, you don’t have to feel isolated when you’re hanging out at your house and your family is scattered in different cities.
Teleparties can’t replace being in the same room, but they can make being apart less frustrating. Just pick an age-appropriate selection, set a date, and you’re good to have a virtual Netflix party.
6. Exercise as a family with techy equipment.
When you think of communications technology, you probably imagine yourself using it while you’re stationary. However, some types of tech work best when you’re getting a little cardio with your partner, kids, or best friend.
Consider items like electric, uni-wheel skateboards. The skateboards leverage tech to enable just about anyone to feel like a boarding pro. At the same time, they encourage getting fresh air and exercise.
Purchase a couple tech-enabled pieces of equipment for your family and use them regularly. Children and teens often “open up” when they’re in non-confrontational settings, like playing around in the park. Getting outdoors with your single wheel electric skateboards may be a sneaky, but effective, way to bond with your brood.
Old-fashioned conversations will never go out of style. Still, sometimes you can’t be in the same place at the same time with others. That’s when being able to depend upon emerging technologies to foster connections makes sense. Get creative with a little help from your personal tech stack. You’ll feel more attached to your loved ones, and vice versa.