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Bridging the gap


by Rom Feria

Can technology bridge the gap between parents and their children?

There are always two sides to every issue and in this case, the negatives are practically the same in every generation. The considerable age difference is what keeps the gap between parents and children. This widens when parents do not understand the latest technology that their children are exposed to.

When I was a kid, my parents never understood why I study with the TV turned on even if I am not watching. I had access to technology late in my childhood — never had an Atari or a Game & Watch, but had access to them because my cousins had them. I had computer classes in high school, but never really owned one after a year in college (thanks to my geek uncle in the US — thanks, Tito Vic, I never forget). And the rest, as we say, is history.

Today, with all the latest technology I could get my hands on, my children tend to be exposed to them early, too.

It is one thing to keep up with the latest technology that your children are exposed to, it is another to use that technology to narrow the gap between you and your children. Communication is always the key to narrowing this gap. Yes, children will always have those earphones stuck in their ear canals, but you need to set boundaries on when it is appropriate for them to do that.

It is now easier to keep that line of communications open. SMS, voice calls, iMessage, FaceTime, Snapchat, Google+ Hangout, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, you name it, there are different ways to keep touch with your kids. Establishing simple rules of when you can reach them would do wonders. For example, get your kids to send a message when s/he reaches school, when s/he leaves, when s/he gets home. Going beyond this, of course, is even better. In my case, I make sure that I find a good internet connection wherever I go out of town just so I can FaceTime with the family. Seeing their faces on the iPad’s screen do wonders, even if sometimes you think of it as just a plain call.

There are other innovative ways of using technology to diminish that gap. I remember reading about an app, actually an iBook, that allows you to record your voice while reading a bed-time story. So when you are on a trip, your child can use the app, a Read-Aloud book, while hearing your voice. Awesome, eh?

Facebook or other social networking site is also a good way to keep tabs of your children, provided, of course, that your children add you as a friend. This may go both ways — stalking them or simply keeping tabs of their activities — setting boundaries definitely is a good start. Even if you don’t add your children in your social networks, knowing the latest words, terms and phrases that make it to the urban dictionary, or the local slang dictionary, will make you understand your kids more.

Anyway, the key to using technology to bridge the gap between parents and children is to keep up with the technology they are using. A gap in the technology, widens the gap between the two. And oh, I am not an expert on this — and don’t believe anybody who says they are experts in parenting, too — each child is unique, so take all of these with a grain of salt. :)