It may seem daunting, but one of the best things families can do is to engage online and explore the use of technology together. This can help parents understand what makes the online world so attractive to children but can also provide some fun family activities!
There are a number of educational apps and resources that can create formal and informal learning opportunities; technology is great tool for both children and adults to learn new things! Encourage creativity by exploring how to take photos or make videos safely, or work together to create digital art which can be shared with family and friends. Depending on the weather, you could take the screens outside and use mobile devices to help the family go on a real-life treasure hunt. When used safely, ‘Geocaching’ and augmented reality games can enable families to play together whilst also enjoying fresh air and exercise.
Being online should be a sociable activity, so why not take it in turns to choose a game or online content that the whole family can enjoy? This will help families talk on a regular basis about the apps children use, the content they watch and the types of games they play. If you’re not sure what their favourite apps or games do, or what is involved, ask your child to show you how they use them. Playing and using technology together as a family can be a great way to open opportunities for parents to discuss online behaviour with their children and explore the tools available which can help keep everyone safer online.
Ever since the rise of smartphones, people often think of technology as getting in the way of core family time. We blame notifications and the endless scrolling appeal of social media for people being distracted and spending time not paying attention to the ones around them.
However, tech isn’t something that needs to be feared – sometimes you can use it to bring your family together, and to connect with them when you feel like you’re drifting apart.
There are hundreds of games to play as a family – from car racing and team challenges to online puzzles you can play with far flung relatives. Keep a house leader board for the more competitive members of the family so you can help keep up the family engagement and fun! If you’re playing remotely, a lot of these games allow you to talk and play at the same time, which helps you catch up on everyday life whilst playing together.
If your kids are spending a lot of time on YouTube, ask them if you could see a video from their favourite creator. Engaging with videos they like can start conversations without feeling like you’re crowding them. If your family is all across the country and you want a movie night, a lot of streaming platforms now allow ‘watch parties’. All you need to do is pick a film and hit play, and you can all be watching the film at the same time – there are even chat features on the side to message each other whilst the movie is on!
These are only a few examples of ways technology can help support family time; there are thousands of apps, games and services available – see what ones might interest your family!
Tech can be a great way to enjoy family time at Christmas and have some fun, and I don’t necessarily mean just your children sitting at consoles with their headsets on. Take for example the number of games that resemble board games that can be played using your TV. You can use trivia games that have electronic versions, you can buy and play with toys that are electronic such as remote control vehicles and drones and, of course, you can buy handheld games systems that you can play together such as the Nintendo Switch.
Many parents think that tech means their child will rush off to be with their friends and for some this may be true during the festive season. However, there are many games you could play together as a family; have some fun letting your children win, or even trying to beat their scores on the consoles you buy them. Maybe you could play one game each of their choosing and then yours, to levy some practice and enhance your own gaming skills. There are so many styles of games and you may need to look at online stores to find one that can be played together. One of the best spaces to learn about the games themselves is www.taminggaming.com.
Give it a go! You never know, it might just be fun, giggles and a way to connect with your children. And you could get the high score!
See more articles and resources to help children stay safe online.