FAMILY TECH: ‘Calling’ home for the holidays
In past articles, I have warned about the dangers of too much technology in the daily life of children (as well as adults). In many ways, the memories we have from our childhood are disappearing because many people spend the bulk of their free time with their faces buried in phones, tablets and iPads. However, some of the most important memories we can create, are possible because of these wonderful hand held devices.
When I was a child, I was able to spend the holidays with whatever relatives made the pilgrimage to my grandparents’ house that year. There were phone calls, but spending time with all of those aunts, uncles and cousins was minimal at best. If those family members lived in another country, the opportunities were even less. When the extent of getting to know your distant cousins consists of those short phone calls and the occasional card, that word “distant” really sticks out.
Technology has changed that for the better these days. With the creation of apps like Skype and Facetime, we can now talk to friends and family around the world with ease and minimal cost. Now, fathers and mothers in the military in far away lands can watch their children open gifts and be part of the holiday festivities. Compared to decades ago where there were infrequent phone calls, and even fewer letters, this has helped many soldiers on their third and fourth tours overseas be close to children and other relatives they would not be able to communicate with.
The use of Skype, and more often Facetime, in my house has become something that I treasure, not so much for me, but my children. My in-laws, who live in New York, have been able to sing “Happy Birthday” to each of my children and watch them blow out candles pretty regularly. This would never happen without technology because my father in-law’s health makes it difficult for him to travel. My children get to speak to their cousins who live in Israel and their aunt who lives in Switzerland with regularity.
Even more interesting is the relationship my oldest child has with my parents. She Facetimes with them daily, telling them about her day and what is going on in her life. They tease each other and my father is constantly putting my daughter “in the corner” by taking his iPhone and placing it in a drawer or camera side down so that all she sees is darkness. They have created a strong bond that would not exist today without the creation of this technology.
Whether it is Skype, Facetime or any other similar software, the individual can navigate through it relatively easily. With a little guidance, even the most technology-inept can utilize these features without much struggling. Never again will Grandma miss opening the presents under the tree, or the lighting of a menorah or kinara, or the Festivus Feats of Strength again.
From my family to yours, may your holidays be filled with love, laughter and many wonderful memories. Please be safe and watch yourself around all of those tasty treats!
Talk to Victor: Victor Alfieri is an avid music fan who has three children with his wife, Stephanie.