In my family I was among the first to embrace computers. Long before Bill Gates and Windows operating system, I was writing books on WordPerfect using DOS. My first computer cost $3,000 and was a gigantic desktop model.
In the early days I operated a publishing business for rehabilitation specialists and loved my work. Once the Internet took off and Medscape became popular, my little business was lost. I didn’t accommodate to the change and paid the price.
This was a lesson I generalized to other areas of my life and soon learned how to use digital communication and digital devices to my advantage. However, true to my financial blueprint, I did not jump on the bandwagon with every new device or site that hit the market.
In the process of walking the middle ground between being on the fringes of digital communication and on the cutting edge, I enjoyed the benefits of both. When devices didn’t work as promised I didn’t own one, and when the devices that did work were hitting their stride, I bought them at a reduced price than the cutting edge people.
Over the years I’ve come to enjoy several ways that digital communication has strengthened my relationships with past friends, family and my children. However, like everything, there is a flip side to the coin. Not everything about digital devices is positive, and in a couple of weeks I’ll go over some of the pitfalls that I’ve either encountered personally or had friends who dropped into that hole.
For today, I’d like to put to rest the naysayers who believe that all things digital ruins face-to-face communication or destroys your relationships with others.
Keeping up with the Jones’
This isn’t about buying the biggest or best devices to outdo your neighbor. Instead, it’s really about keeping up with friends and relatives that may have otherwise dropped off the face of the earth. Through Facebook I’ve reconnected with high school friends I may have never met again. We have a FB page for our meetups (in a town over 6 hours from where I live now) and continue to find new members.
There are friends who live in vacation destinations (on the beach for me!) who have invited me to stay for a couple of days. There are business acquaintances who have connected on Facebook that I wouldn’t have otherwise reached out to communicate with. A few projects have come from those connections.
There are a couple of neighbors who I don’t see as often as I would like since we moved just 10 short miles, but I get to see pictures of their children growing up, and they see mine.
Keeping up with the Jones’ has definitely been a real plus for me and my children!
Sharing information with your children and friends means more than just sharing pictures. Develop a list with your friends of things you want to do together (including boyfriends). Brainstorm future dates, vacations and day trips.
Do the same with your children. Day trips, field trips and school excursions will also bring you and your children together. Make a list with your children of the places you want to visit together – self-defense classes with your daughter, visiting the fire station with your 5 year old, or local historical park to see the sites.
Sharing a Calendar
Better than paper because everyone can have it with them on their mobile devices. Share your school schedule, day trips, nights out and appointments so no one isn’t where they should be when they should be there.
Notes, Notes and More Notes
Do you have a friend who shared information about their daughter and you want to be sure to ask the next time you talk? Write it down on a notepad. Keep your notes about follow ups with friends, questions you need answered and information you want to share with a friend when you think about it.
Because it’s online, you can access it anywhere and anytime. Heading into church but can’t remember the new woman’s name behind the coffee bar? Look it up before you get there in your notepad! People feel special when they know you’ve remembered them and the special details about their life.
Text Your Kids
Your children are texting all day, make sure they text you too. Text your children to stay in touch. Send funny messages and work to connect with them in the world they use, so when they have questions and problems in their life, they know they can count on you.
Learn the Apps They Are Using
Do your children use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest? Put the apps on your phone and use them! You might not like it, but your children will really appreciate your participation. BUT, and big BUT here – do not be mom on Instagram. Just be yourself.
Rule NUMBER ONE: You’ll probably embarrass your kids but don’t ever do it intentionally. They’ll get past the embarrassment of mom being part of their digital life but not if you talk to them like they’re your little baby.
Rule Number Two: BEEEE yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone else- everyone sees through that.
Rule Number Three: Don’t over do communication with them in public areas. They don’t want their friends to know they are friends with their mom, but they don’t mind an occasional like or comment on their posts or pictures.
Digital communication can truly strengthen your relationships with your friends and your children – but not to the exclusion of face-to-face conversations. Use texting and sharing pictures wisely, but don’t forget to actually pick up the phone to talk with friends or sit down to dinner with your children.