It sounds counter intuitive to suggest that an app on an individual’s cell phone or tablet can bring them closer to anyone. We sense technology is isolating people, getting in the way of personal interaction- not a tool you might turn towards using to bring your family together. After all, aren’t we all trying to find ways to limit our child’s time online?
Before dismissing the notion of turning to tech to strengthen family bonds, consider that app technologies may actually be one helpful way in engaging with your children through mediums they already enjoy. According to Common Sense Media, there are many beneficial apps developed to encourage bonding, and some help you connect meaningfully with those who might be far away.
I tested a few of the apps suggested by Common Sense Media with my teens sons this holiday season. The results were good and we all agreed testing them out together was fun… and I certainly connected with them in a way we hadn’t before. For a short time, we spoke the same tech language, had a shared common experience and they thought it was “cool” that rather than limiting their time on their phones, I was playing right along with them.
We all agree, it was similar to our family board game nights in the respect that even though we were focused on a game (or in this case an App,) we still had plenty of lively conversation and did feel like we were an important part of the family dynamic rather than just individuals scanning our cell phone. Experiences may vary by App, but our were positive with the two we tried:
Geocaching – Living in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest, we figured there would be some great spots nearby and there certainly were. While we didn’t find any containers, we did have a great time on our first journey just hiking and visiting one of our natural landmarks here. It reminded us how much we love exploring the trails here and certainly gave us a “healthy” family adventure. Not sure that we’ll continue to use this program as it’s a bit disappointing that some of the apps advanced features require a subscription, but there was still enough for us to start out with and to have a great journey.
Trivia Crack – Now that my sons are teens, competing with them on trivia games is quite fun. I’m always surprised by the information they now know and they get a kick that mom tends to beat them on Star Wars and Harry Potter trivia (ah, the random things we know about our favorite films!) Even though we are all staring at our own phones, we played in the same room so there was a lot of fun conversation taking place as we remarked on the quirks of the game or struggled to recall an answer.
It was also fun to invite relatives and friends to play and compete with them. It did make us feel a little more connected to our extended family in the same sense that communicating on Facebook does. Overall, we found Trivia Crack to be a good game to play, especially if you love board games like Trivial Pursuit, and we all thought it was great that it tested our recall skills. This is one we’ll keep for family play.
Next time you are looking for ideas to help bring your family together, check out the full list of recommended Apps at: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/apps-that-can-bring-families-together to create some fun!