We live in a mobile society where the need to make a living and the ability to conveniently travel has separated many family members from each other for long periods of time. Sometimes those periods of time have lasted forever.
Those of us who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s remember a very traditional example of the family and how parents and siblings related and interacted with each other. We always ate the evening meal together and discussed the events of the day. My Father would say the blessing and he always had the last say on any decisions that were made concerning the family activities. Holidays were always spent with one or both of the Grandparents and that was where we met our aunts, uncles and cousins from other parts of the State.
Needless to say, family life as we knew it back then has changed greatly. With this new generation and the rise of technology family members rarely talk or even see each other. Everyone has a mobile phone, tablet or lap top and a flat screen in their bedroom. If Mom needs to send a message to Son, she IM (instant messages) her request. If Daughter needs Dad to give her money for school, she sends an e-mail and asks him to direct deposit into her account on line. Everyone stays so busy with work, school and extracurricular activities, there is less and less time to interact or communicate with each other on a personal level.
Don’t get me wrong, technology when used efficiently can make our lives healthier, wealthier and more convenient. But when we substitute electronic relationships for physical interaction we quickly find ourselves isolated from those we love. Left unchecked or unchanged we can grow older and loose contact with family members who move to other areas of the country or world.
Thanks to technology there are many ways now to stay in touch with family members who live far away. It’s about inventiveness and educating us older folks on the latest technology. Where there is a will and a want to stay connected these days, there is always a way. I’m always encouraged to read the reports of people finding long lost family members through social networks. The armed forces overseas even have access to Skype and can communicate with family members back home.
Cell phones also facilitate communication and help family keep in touch. Grandparents and parents buy phone plans for kids away at college and spouses who work in different states or time zones can stay in contact. Technology is a wonderful thing and when used with good judgment it brings us closer together. Please find below some of the inventive ways we can use technology and change the way we stay in touch with family far away.
- Become Facebook friends or follow each other on Twitter. Use the social media platforms to enhance your connectedness. I’m on my son’s friends and family account and we instant message back and forth when things come up we want to share. It gives me the ability to wish my grandchildren good luck on test days or ask my daughter-in-law about her latest cookie recipe. I admit, it’s not as personal as a phone call but I’m reaching them on their communication level and I’m satisfied with that.
- Use the recording devices on the mobile phones to send mobile messages. My son recently sent a recording of my granddaughters flute duet. It wasn’t as personable as being there but it was still very special to receive and hear. You can even make a recording of your voice reading a bedtime story for those with younger children.
- Skype with a family member. This has become a great way to keep up with people who are far away. It’s good to also see how different they look or how the kids have grown.
- Set up a family group email list. If you don’t have time for personal e-mails with each family member, just type the latest news or family update and send it to the entire family bunch.
- Create online family photo albums using snapfish.com or shutterfly.com. You can also share recipes online.
- Play games like Words with Friends or Chess with family members on line. There are many interactive games that can be shared this way.
When there is the desire and love and passion between families to stay connected, technology can make it easier. It’s up to us to set aside the time consistently to stay in touch. Then it’s up to us to make sure that time is fun and memorable.
Are you Ready to start changing how we stay in touch with family?