7 Ways Technology Can Bring Your Family Closer


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Most parents can agree that it’s a good idea to set aside technology-free family time. At the same time, it’s also helpful to remember all the ways technology can bring families closer. Young people, in particular, filter much of their experiences through their phones, so turning phones off for extended periods of time may actually cause them to feel less connected. 

Here are a few ways technology can enhance family togetherness. Whenever possible, use the simplest apps so as many people as possible can participate. 

Plan reunions. Using an app like Party Planner for the annual family reunion will help you manage the details, from inviting guests and tracking responses to delegating tasks and budgeting. Entering necessary information may take a little time, but it lays the groundwork for future reunions.

Start a family media channel. Establish a blog or a social media group, and limit access to extended family and special friends. Invite kids, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents to participate, providing whatever support they need to get connected. Encourage everyone to post inside jokes, recipes, memories and bits of family lore. To make people more comfortable with sharing heartfelt or silly sentiments, establish a simple rule: What appears on the site can’t be shared anywhere else without permission.

Tune up. Build a family playlist for your next family reunion, the holidays and other occasions. Ask everyone old enough to talk to make suggestions. Of course, there are plenty playlists available on sites like Pandora and Spotify, but it’s a lot more meaningful — and fun — to juxtapose grandma’s favorites from the 1940s with the latest Justin Bieber jam.

Chat long distance. Schedule video chats with distant loved ones. Group chats can sometimes feel awkward so encourage family members to take turns. Do a little coaching so kids are prepared to thank relatives for gifts or demonstrate what they can do with a new toy. Ask questions that prompt elders to share memories and stories.

Set up a group text. If video chatting makes family members self-conscious, try using GroupMe, a free app that allows everyone in the family to see the same text messages. GroupMe works with every smartphone platform. Give it a try in your immediate family, then expand the group to include cousins and other relatives. Notifications can be set to alert smartphone users when a new text arrives, or turned off so multiple texts don’t become bothersome.

Play games. Ask preteens for the best family-friendly games or find apps that simulate classics like Scrabble and Checkers. Help grandparents sign up so they can play across the room — or country. Consider creating customized games for your family. For example, try making up a scavenger hunt that involves taking photos connected with family traditions.

Collect photos. Set up a password-protected site on a photo-sharing platform like Flickr, Instagram or Google Photos, then send the link to everyone in the family. Ask family members to upload their favorite photos and videos to create a collective album.

There are, of course, plenty of other ways technology can make family time fun and meaningful. Embracing these possibilities with an open heart makes it more likely that everyone will participate and enjoy these experiences together.


Carolyn Jabs is the author of “Cooperative Wisdom: Bringing People Together When Things Fall Apart,” available at Amazon and cooperativewisdom.org.

 

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May 2020

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Cost: $70/month

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Cost: See website for fees

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Cost: $35 per Student

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820 E. Williams St.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Online
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Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

More information

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Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

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Cost: Donation Based

Where:
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Sponsor: Lionheart Fitness Kids
Telephone: 951-347-1555
Contact Name: Godfrey Griffin
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Cost: $70/month

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Telephone: 191-990-25432
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
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Cost: Free

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More information

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Cost: See website for fees

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Cost: FREE

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View map »


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Cost: $6

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Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

More information

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Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

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Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

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Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
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View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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Cost: FREE

Where:
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Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

More information

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Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
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Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
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Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers and are exempt from the Governor's Stay at Home Order (page 6). Farmers markets offer an efficient way for residents to...

Cost: free

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Farmers Market Coordinator
Telephone: 919-567-4010
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
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Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Join one of our talented Mid-South Fencers’ Club coaches for a one hour virtual lesson to the fast paced and exciting sport of Olympic Fencing! This will be a FREE ONLINE class. All you need is...

Cost: free

Where:
Mid-South Fencers' Club ONLINE
125 N. Gregson St.
DURHAM, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Mid-South Fencers' Club
Telephone: 919-286-3100
Contact Name: Jeff Kallio
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It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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Get your summer vibes going at the 1st Annual Hubb’s Beach Blast at Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, NC.  Hubb’s Beach Blast will feature two of beach music industry’s top groups, Jim Quick and...

Cost: 20-50

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 US HWY 421 N
Clinton, NC  28328
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Sponsor: Hubb's Farm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
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