Improving Family Connections in a Digitally-Connected World

In a world where almost everyone is connected, one of the main challenges that we have is staying connected with the people around us. Look around you. See how people gathered in a restaurant typically would just greet each other before sitting down and spend most of the time with their eyes glued to their digital devices.

Sure, folks would chat for a while but would always have their phones or tablets in their hands, waiting for the perfect Instagrammable moment like a selfie, a groupie, or a foodfie (taking snapshots of what they ordered). Or if they’re not busy attending to their social media duties, they’re still getting work done despite the presence of a physical company.

Parenting Challenges in a Digital World

The world, ironically, has grown more disconnected the more digitally connected we become. This has also translated into our homes and families. You would think that a couple would rather spend time in bed cuddling and talking wrapped in a high-quality Minky blanket but no. A lot of couples nowadays would be in bed either reading or watching something online or going through their Twitter or IG accounts.

It’s even worse with kids, especially teenagers. Teens can’t seem to function well apart from their smartphones and tablets. Some parents would even confiscate digital devices to torture their kids as punishment.

Technology has somehow made families grow farther apart even if they are together. And it has become such a burden on a lot of parents wanting to really connect with their kids.

Disconnectedness

The irony about living in a connected world is how disconnected we have all become from each other. Most of us would rather stay in our own digital worlds where we have control instead of spending time with our loved ones. Kids nowadays are more prone to finding solace and refuge online since they can get together with other people who share the same interests, frustrations, and concerns.

Exposure to inappropriate content

One of the toughest battles each parent faces today is protecting their kids against inappropriate content found online. One would think that videos about Peppa Pig are harmless but the knock-off videos that found their way on YouTube depicting the titular character in different violent and deadly situations prove us wrong.

Apathy or Self-Centeredness

As much as technology has been a huge blessing to the world, it also has its downsides. Particularly, it has created people who have become more narcissistic and apathetic towards other people. The digital realm is home to all kinds of people with different world views and behaviors that one wouldn’t normally pick up or be influenced by in physical interactions. Too much time online has opened not just young kids’ minds but also their hearts to selfish and self-centered convictions and mindsets.

Reconnecting with Family in a Digitally-Connected World

We’re already in a digital age. The world has nowhere else to go. The question most parents have now is how can they improve their relationships with their children without having to do away with tech?

Be supportive of their online activities and friendships

Instead of taking kids away from their digital devices, parents should find ways to be more involved in their kids’ online activities. This means being familiar with the games they play, the influencers they follow, and even the friends they have online. Teach children that digital devices and technology are tools to build meaningful connections and not isolate people, including themselves.

Set healthy boundaries for technology use

Now just because a parent is supportive of a child’s online activity doesn’t necessarily mean that they should tolerate everything. Parents should set healthy boundaries when using technology. The key is not to come across as authoritarian. Parents should explain what boundaries are for and how these can help not just protect them but also instill good disciplines and habits that will be useful in life.

Be involved in their lives

There’s plenty of harmful and highly inappropriate content that kids can easily access nowadays. This is why parents must be more involved in their kids’ lives. Aside from being involved in their online activities, parents should also take the time to really connect with their kids on a more personal and deeper level.

Sadly, a lot of parents today don’t truly know who their kids are. It is worsened by the fact that a lot of these parents use technology as their digital nannies to keep kids occupied and out of their hair as they do more important things.

One has to be intentional and carve out time in his or her busy schedule to be with their children. It may not be easy but nobody ever said parenting would be a breeze.

Be the example

Lastly, if parents truly want to be more intimately connected with their kids, they should start by putting their gadgets down. Children are more likely to follow what is done, not what is said. So parents should log off of their social media accounts, set aside those phones and tablets, and look for meaningful ways to spend time with their kids.

Technology, just like a lot of other things, can be a boon or a bane to people. It only depends on how it is used. If it is used excessively to the point that it already compromises our relationships, intervention should take place. But if it is used well, it can make our relationships with each other a lot more meaningful.

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