Staying connected with loved ones — even if they live hundreds of miles away — is imperative for your family’s mental and emotional well-being. But if you’re like a lot of families, maintaining those connections can be a bit of a challenge.
Ever-growing to-do lists can make it tough to find the time to foster strong connections with long-distance loved ones. And ever-growing concerns about questionable online content can easily make you wary about giving your kids a phone of their own.
But maintaining strong family ties doesn’t have to be difficult, and it certainly needn’t become an afterthought. With a little creativity and some planning on your part, you can help your kids center their focus around family connections this year.
When you’re strapped for time and safe kids’ communication devices, how can you make family connections a priority? Read on to find out.
Get a (Safe) Phone For Kids
We all know chatting on the phone is the simplest and quickest way to stay connected with family. But in a world where predators, bullies, and highly questionable content live online, it’s no wonder parents shy away from giving their kids smartphones. Are you one of those parents?
If so, you should know that developmental experts agree with you on that front. They say kids shouldn’t have a smartphone until they’re at least 10 years old, preferably older. Luckily, you have an alternative. It’s called a cell phone for kids, and it’s designed to significantly limit what your kids can do with their phones.
A specialized cell phone for kids only performs three functions: it can make phone calls, send texts, and take photos/videos. This type of phone literally cannot do anything else because it’s not internet capable.
When your kids have a phone that’s designed for safe communication, they can call and chat with family regularly. Or, if they just want to say a quick hello, they can easily text or send a photo. And you can have peace of mind knowing your kids are protected from both digital threats and excessive screen time.
Make Communication a Family Activity
Aside from chatting on the phone, video chatting is also an excellent way to stay connected with long-distance loved ones. Simply seeing far-away relatives via video can help your family feel more connected than making voice calls or sending texts.
But to take part in a video chat, you must have an internet-capable device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer. And if you’re like a lot of parents, you’re wary about letting your kids have access to those devices. That’s where scheduling video chat sessions for the whole family comes in.
Making video chats a family event can help limit your kids’ screen time and exposure to questionable online content. Choose one day a week when you’ll all sit down and spend time as a family chatting with long-distance loved ones. Conduct your family chats via your personal internet-capable device, so your kids don’t need access to one of their own.
Exchange Video Greetings
Not a huge fan of live, on-the-spot video calls? Then why not have your kids record short video greetings and send them to long-distance loved ones? You can participate too! Brief video snippets are a great way to let far-away family members know you’re thinking about them. Plus, they’re an excellent way to say a quick hello when you don’t have time for a full-blown conversation.
If your kids (or you) don’t want to record videos, you can quickly and easily record short audio-only messages and send those too. That way, you can hear each other’s voices throughout the day when you have a few extra moments. If you find it difficult to set aside time for lengthy phone calls, sending audio snippets is a convenient alternative.
Having a pen pal might seem super old school, but sending letters can be fun and educational! Plus, it’s an excellent way to stay connected with family while encouraging your kids to focus on something that doesn’t involve tech.
Writing and sending letters via snail mail gives your kids an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the present moment. And in our hectic, screen-driven world, we could all benefit from taking the time to slow down and be more present. If you’re limiting your family’s screen time this year, letter writing can also double as a non-tech activity for digital detox days. Why not get the whole family in on this activity?
Staying connected with long-distance loved ones can be tough, but it can also do wonders for your family’s mental and emotional well-being. We all need that sense of belonging we get from family, and that’s why staying connected is so critically important. Even if you’re trying to limit your family’s screen time, there are lots of ways you can all stay in touch. From old-school pen and paper to getting a safe cell phone for kids, you can find workarounds to make it work. Get a little creative, and you might just be surprised at what you come up with!