Using Technology to Spend Quality Time with Family

My 7 year old niece and 4 year old nephew moved to San Diego a year ago. Though I knew that I would miss them a ton, I wasn’t going to let 1,300 miles get in the way of spending quality time with them. We quickly developed a routine of talking regularly via Skype, but after the first few calls where the conversation was the same each time, I was looking for new ways to spend quality time with the two of them. I can’t take credit for all of these ideas (my niece is pretty creative!), but maybe some of them will help you reconnect with someone you love!

  1. Choose a book and read it together. With my nephew (pre-reading), we take turns. Sometimes I read while showing him the pictures and other times he “reads” while showing me the pictures. With my niece, we each have a copy of the book. Sometimes we read together, taking turns. Other times, we’ll plan to pre-read a couple of chapters and then talk about what we read during the Skype call.
  2. Play an activity on the computer together. With Skype, one user can share their screen with the other user. One day, while talking, my niece needed help logging into DreamBox K-3 Math. I asked her to share her screen with me and helped her log in. Once she was logged in, we played “together.” I was careful not to help too much, but it was fun to watch her play and ask her questions about how she was solving the problems. We’ve done this with other websites as well—it was pretty cool to help her research butterflies for a school project despite the distance!
  3. Play “car games”. Even though we rarely ride in a car together these days, we are still able to play our favorite “car games.” One of our favorites is “The Guessing Game.” One person things of an item and gives 3 clues. (A recent one? “I’m thinking of something that’s red, is used in pies, and some people put cinnamon in it.” Answer: Apple)
  4. Have a meal together. Sounds kind of crazy (and takes some coordinating of schedules), but we’ve had dinner together by setting the computer on the far side of the table and talking over a meal. Not quite the same as our Sunday dinners of the past, but fun nonetheless.

How do you connect with long distance family and friends—especially kids?