What will your digital festive season look like this year?

With social distancing rules in place this December, for many families, the festive season will look very different this year. To understand how Dad of 3 Damion Founde speaks to us about what his family will be doing to celebrate using tech.

The Founde family has relatives spread across the North East and Yorkshire that they were looking forward to visiting at Christmas. Ordinarily, there would be big family reunions, dinners and days out during the festive season.

Celebrating over video calls

This year things look very different. The family will be using FaceTime to chat with family members on Christmas Day, and there are plans to use Zoom for family quizzes with some of the distant relatives. “FaceTime is the easiest way to catch up with family, but Chloe (17) uses Zoom a lot with her friends, so we’re going to try that for a family quiz night,” says Damion.

Relaxed digital boundaries

The family will be using lots of technology and Damion admits that after a tough few months, some of the rules will be relaxed this Christmas. “The kids do push the boundaries, but after the year we’ve had, I think I’ll be a little more relaxed this Christmas just to give them some form of normality,” Damion says.

Damion has worked in the technology sector for many years and is quite technically savvy, something he has passed on to his children. “My kids are quite clued up and even Alfie (4) knows the rights and wrongs of what he should be doing online,” adds Damion.

That’s not to say Damion isn’t a fan of technology. He describes himself as a “technology advocate” and thinks that families should embrace technology. “We can’t deny our children tech time, whether it’s games consoles, laptops or phones. It’s Christmas and kids will want to play on it – probably all day!”

Kids’ Christmas wish list

There will be other exciting toys for the children to enjoy that don’t involve screens, however. Lilly (11) and Alfie (4) have asked for LEGO toys this year, as well as new clothes and dinosaur toys. Chloe has asked for a laptop to help with college work, which Damion has already set up and made safe for online use before it’s wrapped up.

Striking a balance with screen time

Managing screen time is a constant challenge for parents, and one that increases every year as more tech becomes available, Damion believes. Like many kids around the country, Damion’s children will receive some technology gifts at Christmas. “It’s fantastic, we can’t live without technology these days, but we do need to educate our kids on the use of technology and the consequences around safety and wellbeing,” he says.

This Christmas Damion and his wife will be setting rules to manage screen time. Without school to distract them, Damion and his wife don’t want them to fall into the habit of staring at screens too much. Instead, there will be lots of board games and puzzles to get the kids thinking. The family is also planning lots of interaction with other people, outdoor time and offline toys.

Parent screen time tip

Damion recommends that parents create a structure for Christmas Day that involves children having tech time but also family time that pulls them away from those tempting screens. That might be board games, offline toys, or chatting with the family over the table. “The important thing is that we have a duty of care to ensure children are aware there are other things that we can be doing instead of being in front of a screen,” says Damion.

While this sounds quite serious, Damion says the number one priority for the Founde family this Christmas is simple: enjoy yourself. “After a terrible year, we all deserve to enjoy ourselves and have a great end to the year.”

Damion Founde is a stay-at-home Dad living in Middlesbrough with his three children, Chloe (17), Lilly (11) and Alfie (4). He writes a popular parenting blog at The Northern Dad

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