Enrich Your Relationships With Technology

By Guest Author
Amy Williams

Child with Apple iPad
In the last few years, technology has made it easier than ever before for families to stay connected, no matter how far apart they travel. While there are many benefits available, there are also a few problems you’ll need to stay on the lookout for — and we’ll be covering both of these topics today.

Use Technology to Improve Your Connections With Your Family

Does connecting with other people through technology really help you to feel more social and connected? According to research done by the University of California, Berkeley, the answer is “Yes, to a certain point”. Though they cautioned that trying to have too much of an online presence was often depressing, it was measurably helpful as long as people found a balance between having too few friends and having too many of them.

Here are a few more things you can do:

  • Use Social Media Comments As Conversation Starters: Did someone in your family mention having a great time at a particular event? Use that as a conversation starter the next time you talk and ask them how it went. Humans love sharing stories, and the more fun you have talking about experiences, the faster you’ll be able to build (or rebuild) a relationship. This doesn’t have to be limited to their comments on social media, though personal connections do help. You can also talk about the latest news articles or trending topics and ask how they feel about what’s going on.
  • Play Games Together: There are more multiplayer games now than ever before – from digital versions of board game classics to brand-new games that would never be possible without high technology. If you can’t meet face-to-face, try arranging for playing a game together at a certain time each week – this lets you do something together and can provide a sense of solidarity for the relationship.
  • Start A Group: Conversations can happen between more than two people — and groups are a great way of having conversations where the whole family can join in. Even better, most groups on social media allow you to restrict access to everyone outside of the group, so nobody else will be able to snoop on what your family is talking about. Just to be sure, however, you should go over the privacy settings of the group on a regular basis. Social media sites thrive on spreading information as widely as possible, and it’s important to review your settings on a regular basis to be sure they’re still in order.

Know Some Things of Which You Need To Be Careful

Did you know that most posts made online are interpreted more negatively than intended? Communication isn’t limited to words alone — tone and expression play a large part in interpreting a given sentence, and both of those are absent from digital communications.

This isn’t usually a problem, but if your relationships are already a little rocky, this could eventually snowball into a situation where everyone’s more upset than they planned on being. Fortunately, avoiding this problem is easy — use some kind of voice chat, such as Skype, when you actually want to talk to someone. This returns tone (and expression, if you’re using webcams) to the dialogue and helps the person on the other end understand how you really feel.

It’s also important to avoid over-using technology. As humans, we still desire to have other people’s undivided attention — and if we’re constantly ignoring our family in favor of sending Tweets, that’s a problem. Try asking everyone to put away the technology any time you’re together — you might be surprised at how good it can feel to experience an event instead of spending the time to record it, no matter how badly technology wants to fill the voids in our pleasure centers.

In summary, the golden rule of using tech for interaction is that technology should enrich relationships, not replace them.

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety @AmyKWilliams1

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