Chapter 8: Technology Use for Family Communication and Connectivity
Create (or at least plan) your own Family Creative Learning project. Review the facilitator’s handbook and information about the overall project on the website. Using pages 8–18 of the guide, plan a project (set of workshops) for a community of families with 7–12-year-old children. This may be a community well-known to you (e.g., your younger sister’s elementary school; the afterschool program you work in), or it may be an aspirational community you feel would benefit from a project like this. Add as much detail as you can, including the type of food to be shared, the projects developed, and outcomes you hope to achieve. Don’t worry about being familiar with the software mentioned in the handbook (newer or better technology may be available anyway). The important thing is that you use the basic elements and aims of this project to plan for active engagement and relationship building between families.
In the chapter we briefly discuss the Children of the Force podcast, a product of Al Nowatski and his children, Liam and Anna (now teenagers). The podcast, started in 2016, arose from their shared interest in Star Wars. Episodes can be found at their website: childrenoftheforce.com. Select at least one of the episodes to listen to. You can also watch this interview with the family from the spring of 2022:
Consider the following questions:
- What does the activity mean to the family sense of closeness (cohesion)? How does the activity serve as a platform for family communication, and as a demonstration of family/family member flexibility?
- How is Al asserting his role in the family? How are his children asserting their roles as children? How does the technology experience affect the execution of those roles, rules, and structure? How does it affect the processes of relationship maintenance and strengthening?
- Consider the contribution of creating this podcast to each child’s development over time. In what ways might it influence the sense of identity? Self-concept? Social awareness?
- How might Al operate as a “learning hero” as one or both of the children build on the podcast experience to engage with their interests?
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a Family Media Plan, an online tool which includes helpful guidelines for safe and healthy technology use for children, and for shared decision-making by children and their parents.
- Play around with it to see how it works, and create separate plans for a family with three children at different ages.
- Review each plan. How did you determine what to include for each child based on their age?
- How easy or difficult would it be for a family to help all children follow this plan?
- Consider your role as a family professional (e.g., therapist, educator, family service provider). How would you help families work with the plan?
Commonsense Media offers helpful guidelines on co-viewing media with young children in ways that are helpful to their learning and to parent/child relationships. Explore the tips and explanations:
- Focus their attention.
- Encourage them to think about the order of events.
- Strengthen their understanding.
- Make it relatable.
- Expand on what kids say.
Now select a popular film you might watch with a child between 4 and 8 years old (if you can’t think of one, Commonsense Media also has a very helpful guide to media selection based on child age). Watch the film one time through, taking notes on each of the points above. Then create a media viewing guide for parents or caregivers to use to co-view the movie with their child.