Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.

Teen Angst

Incorporating Technology into Family Time

Interactively using technology with your child.

Posted May 14, 2016

Wavebreakmedia/Deposit Photos
Source: Wavebreakmedia/Deposit Photos

Several weeks ago I wrote a piece about household technology expectations based on a study from the University of Washington and the University of Michigan. Researchers at these institutions found when it comes to technology kids and parents want virtually the same thing - both want one another to be present in the absence of an electronic device. That finding really stood out to me. With all of the noise that surrounds us in everyday life, sometimes it's hard to stop and be present in the moment. We are constantly being bombarded with information, and there is no doubt about it technology can monopolize large chunks of our time. For some reason many of us have allowed an electronic device to control our lives and interfere with our family time, but that doesn't have to be the case. 

Perhaps technology isn’t the culprit, but rather the problem lies within the inability to establish healthy and appropriate boundaries. Is technology really the problem? Sure it has some disadvantages, but it also has some positive perks. For example, if used appropriately, it can help contribute and enrich our relationships with one another. The more I thought about our need for presence, I asked myself “can we be "present" in the midst of technology?” The answer I arrived at was “yes, but...” Yes, we can most definitely use technology to connect with our children, but we have to use it as a means to foster our relationships and not hurt them. Below are five ways we can use technology to interact virtually with our children while strengthening relationships and creating treasured memories.

1. Capture moments with a picture or video.

Gone are the days of wishing we had brought a camera along for that family outing. Now all of those special moments can easily be caught on our smartphone and shared with others. The nice thing about technology is we don't have to wait for our photos to be processed and developed in a lab. With the help of applications, we can create an album of pictures and viola those special times are instantaneously available.

2. Bridge the miles.

Personally, I was reminded of this technological advantage when my own child was on an outing at the park with a friend. She had stumbled upon a nest with a mother bird cautiously guarding her fragile eggs. She caught the whole discovery on video and shared it with me. With a few texts back and forth, it was as though I was on the park outing alongside her.

Technology can also bridge the miles between us and our children. Whether we are away on business or vacation (without the kids), we can easily ask them about their day or better yet tuck them in at night, all thanks to video conferencing. 

3. Instant connections and information

Technology provides a way to communicate immediately with our children. The ease of texting has definitely simplified life by letting us have an instant connection with our children anytime and anyplace.

4. Innovative creations

Whether we are whipping up something in the kitchen, starting a new project or making a craft, technology is a great tool to learn how to do something. From watching do-it-yourself videos, to pulling up a recipe, we can use technology to help spend quality time with our children.

Wavebreakmedia/Deposit Photos
Source: Wavebreakmedia/Deposit Photos

5.  Make a game plan

Heading out on a family outing and want to know about the weather? There is an app for that. Want to catch a family movie, but need to know what time it begins? There is an app for that too. Technology can help us line up a family outing all in a few clicks. So, we get to spend less time on planning and more time on doing.

To sum it up, Socrates first coined the saying "Everything in moderation. Nothing in excess." Well, I think those words could certainly be applied to our use of technology. If we use technology wisely, it can positively contribute to our relationships. If we abuse it, it can hurt them. The power of being present isn’t about technology. It's about internally and externally vesting ourselves in our relationships with our children. Now that's the real power of being present in the moment.