Parents often look for ways to build a relationship with their child or teenager. For the digital native- people who have grown up in the day of the internet- technology is a primary method. We, at Ministry to Parents, asked Tony Bianco, speaker, author, and creator of the Family Technology Plan to share with parents 3 ways to use technology to connect with your kids.
3 Ways to Use Technology to Connect with your Kids
Parents have been struggling to connect and understand their children for generations. Your parents wondered why you did the things you did, pondered how to better relate to your interests, and even tried to create moments where they felt less like a parent and more like a friend.
It seems like the increase in innovation and reaches through technology would have made that task easier. But the majority of parents find it difficult to break into their kid’s life and connect with them. This blog can help you leave the majority and move into the minority who are connecting to their kid. The surprising hint is that it involves the use of technology!
ASK DUMB QUESTIONS
Yes, you read that right. To be clear, the questions you need to ask are not dumb, but they may seem silly to your student. The point is to engage your kid about things that are on their screens.
“What’s a TikTok?”
“How does Snapchat work?”
“Can you show me how to use that Instagram filter?”
You may have no idea about these questions, or you may already know the answers. No matter your level of tech-savvy, you probably have questions about technology or your phone or even how your student is using their phone. Use that curiosity to have conversations.
By asking questions, you are going to reap several benefits as a parent. First, you will receive a first-class education on the hip and trending technologies from a digital-native. You’ll understand your device better and know what your student knows, too!
Second, it’s going to draw you closer to your kid and help you know how they use their device. Just like you need to know your kid’s friends in real life, you all need to know their friends and activities online. Asking questions will position you to have conversations and talk through the people they know and the choices they make.
Third, asking questions will create a culture of communication around technology. If you asked questions randomly and inconsistently, your kid would probably think they are in trouble, or you’re nosy. But if you ask questions about your stuff first, and then learn about their stuff, the conversation will be normal and expected. This strategy helps break down the walls our students build to keep parents out of their digital lives.
Another way to break down walls is to find some common “digital ground” with your student. One of the easiest ways to do it is through video games or mobile gaming. When it comes to 13-18 year olds, the majority play games either on console or PC, but certainly on their mobile device. Statistics show that 97% of teenage boys and 83% of adolescent girls are gamers (either hardcore or casual). That means that your chances are excellent that your kid plays some game. Most mobile games are “turn-based” games, which means that you’ll take your turn, and then at a time of their choosing, they will take their turn. Casual and on their own time means both of you can do this during daily downtime or breaks throughout the day.
Consider these great games that you can play with your student:
- Clash of Clans
- Clash Royale
- Brawl Stars
- Candy Crush
- Pool Kings
- Words with Friends
- Golf Clash
- Trivia Crack
Competition brings people together and allows you to connect in a “non-parenting” way throughout the day. It will also provide you something familiar to talk about surrounding technology! It’s a win-win—unless your student beats you!
Memes are a current trend in student culture that are widely embraced and shared daily. Memes are images that express emotion or a mood that is paired with a statement or words to help share a feeling or laugh. Typically the text description and the picture are not in the same context or association as the image was originally intended. For example, there may be text or a description about parenting, but the image is from a source that had nothing to do with parenting. Here is an example…
Clearly, the movie “Aliens” isn’t about parenting, but the text plus the image makes sense and is hilariously accurate (at least for germaphobe parents).
Memes are shared regularly via social media and text. Kids can even get upset if they are not “tagged” in a meme that they feel applies to them. The point is that memes discussed in hallways, lunchroom tables, and online. If you want to connect with your kid, send them memes.
So where do you find memes? Google. You can search memes online or even make your own. (Check your app store for a meme generator or meme maker). Your kid will be so surprised because mom or dad sharing a meme isn’t something they expected on a random Tuesday morning. However, it gives you another touch-point with your kid around technology. It can also open the door for you to ask them to share a meme with you, talk about memes that they have seen lately, or break down the walls built to keep parents out of their digital lives.
Memes can be funny, but they can also be inappropriate. Tread lightly and make sure what your kid is sending and receiving is appropriate.
Hopefully, these three ideas will challenge you to create some casual conversations, interactions, and fun with your kid around technology. The more “normal” parents and technology can be in your home, the easier it will be for you to have conversations and set expectations around the devices. The bonus result is that you and your kid will begin to relate and have fun in a new and different way!
Tony Bianco has been in Student Ministry for over ten years with his wife Diamend with whom they have two amazing kids. He is a former Radio DJ, Technology Reviewer, GameStop Manager, Apple Store Expert, and the author of The Family Technology Plan. You can contact Tony at Family Technology Plan.
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WANT TO HOST A TECHNOLOGY EVENT FOR PARENTS?
This resource includes everything you need to coordinate a one-time event on technology for parents of teenagers.
The goal of this event is to help you keep your parents informed about technology, including social media, online safety, screen time monitoring, and more. In an ever-changing, fast-growing culture, parents are struggling to keep up with their teenagers. We give you the tools to equip parents on everything they need to guide their teens in the digital age.
The event kit includes:
- Technology Parent Event (Program)
- Promotional Graphic
- Speaker’s Notes & Outline
- Social Media Apps Presentation (PowerPoint)
- Popular Social Media Apps Presenter’s Notes
- Technology Monitoring Software Presentation (PowerPoint)
- Monitoring Software Presenter’s Notes
- Screen Time Guidelines Handout
- Biblical Encouragement for Parenting in the Digital Age Handout