This is the first in a two-part series of posts about talking to kids about technology and how doing so can help you build a stronger relationship with your child. This first post focuses on young children, and the second focuses on tweens and teens.
“One conversation at a time, you are building, destroying, or flatlining your relationships. It is possible, however, to create high-intimacy, low-maintenance relationships one brief conversation at a time.”—Susan Scott
Tech and Building Relationships with Young Children
The Garden Song has a special place in the heart of the Lowell School community. From an early age, we understand that growing a garden takes patience, time, and care. The same is true for building relationships with young children, including those related to technology. It happens “Inch by inch, row by row.”
Tech talk doesn’t need to be a time marked in your calendar. When you see an opportunity arise with your child, take advantage of it! For younger children, technology may provide some of the first opportunities for them to have authentic experiences to connect with others and the world around them. Using day-to-day moments to ask questions and generate conversation mirrors this authenticity.
- Your child is playing a game and you notice they become excited. Celebrate with them! "I noticed you’ve been working very hard to pass that level. Tell me about it. How did you pass it?"
- Your child has a new device. Play with them. Set your own device aside and allow them to show you how it works. Let your child be the expert and give them the space to teach you.
- Your child loves using your phone to take pictures and video. Give them the space to experiment and allow them to film or photograph something that can be shared with other family members.
Intentionally reaching out to your child when things are going well strengthens the positive association they have with you and technology. Building this relational capacity creates a level of trust that will be beneficial when difficult conversations are necessary.
Inch by inch, row by row, brief conversations and with your child build trust. They cultivate a safe space that will be necessary as children and technology continue to grow and change.
- Plan to be intentional in your conversations
- Share your personal stories
- Show respect for your child's success and struggles
- Don’t ask too many questions
- Leave space for them to speak and really listen to what they say
Resources for Parents on How to Listen to Children:
- How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
- Between Parent and Child by Hiam Ginott
- How to Really Listen to Your Child by Debbie Gibbs, Head of School, Lowell School
During her 9 years integrating technology with children and adults in the PreK-12th grade setting, Emily Dillard has been selected to present at various events, including the Common Ground 2016 Conference. She holds a master's degree in education and human development with a concentration in educational technology leadership and a bachelor's degree in elementary education.