Losing touch with your kids: could technology be the solution and not the cause?
GURU SPOTLIGHT: JULIEN BIDDLE
This week I had the pleasure of catching up with the amazing Julien Biddle, founder of eidy - an educational game that connects busy parents with their kids. While chatting with Julian, it became very clear that he has some amazing insight into the life of a parent dealing with the technological changes and barriers that are becoming unavoidable in their child's life.
What I loved about Julien's take on 'screen time', is that it's not all doom and gloom! When used appropriately, new technology can actually be used as a platform to improve the relationship between parents and their children - if they are equipped with the right tools!
WCMS: What is your take on new technology and the impact it has on family life:
Julian: I am deeply interested in the impact that technology has on people and I'm also a dad.
I think that historically technological change has caused people to disconnect from each other. It does this because we are effectively extending ourselves in a new way, which doesn't necessarily lend itself well to good relationships. The obvious example is smartphones (Tip: Kids hate it when you're looking at your smartphone instead of them), but it this happened way back with books originally as well. So, as technological change is inevitable, I've dedicated myself to creating products that will use the technology in a different way.
As a dad I thought that educational software was a good place to start. Kids love creative block building games like 'Minecraft', so I thought an educational game with a similar dynamics might be fun for kids.
Currently parents who work remotely don't get the chance to be involved in their kids education as much. I thought that if they could be directly involved in the game in some way (via their smartphones) it would help them relate to their kids better. I believe that eidy and applications like it may connect over a millions of families in the future.
What are your top 3 tips for busy parents when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship with their children?
1. Most children want to feel secure. One of the best ways to help them feel secure is through routines and "rituals". A "ritual" can be simple, such as a shared activity like a regular event. For example, with my older daughter, I have coffee with her every Saturday morning. We have been doing this for years, and has made a big difference to our relationship. So I strongly recommend that busy parents find a way of spending one-on-one time with their child doing something regularly.
2. Be available. This means letting your kids know that no matter where you are, you are accessible in some way. When you're away this may mean technology, such as text messages or apps like eidy. If you're there in person, letting them know "I'll be in the kitchen if you need me". They may not take take advantage of this, but saying this consistently means they will come to you when they're really in need.
3. Be careful about giving too much unsolicited advice. Although it's your right to give advice, always consider whether it's worth any negative consequences. With younger kids, I've discovered they respond more to the tone of what you're saying than the content of what you're saying. They don't think the way you do and you shouldn't expect them to.
I loved your e-book on communication with children while parents are away. What is your number one tool parents should use when trying to talk to their child while they are away?
The number one "tool" at the moment is technology that encourages natural communication such as phone, facetime or skype. In the future, virtual reality apps may also help. They encourage a smoother transition between being present and not.
What are your go to activities to improve the relationships between parents & their children?
I've already mentioned having coffee with my older kids. This is huge. For younger children, sharing an activity that they enjoy is important. Even if this involves playing a video game or dressing up the cat. For me, personally, this involves taking my daughter swimming (which she seems to want to do at every opportunity). For the kids as a group, taking them to the museum or bushwalking is also good.
As you can see, Julien is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to your relationship with your child. His interesting take on the positive applications for new technology definitely has merit, I feel. If you would like to explore Julien's world more, you can follow him on Facebook or you can head to eidy's webiste and be sure to check out Julien's amazing ebook!
What do you think about using technology to boost the relationship between parents and their children? Let us know in the comments below!