Photo by the Fox, three years old
1. Photo Safari
If your child is old enough to hold your phone and press the “shutter” button, you can send him or her on a photo safari. It’s really cool to see what items and people catch a child’s eye. I’ve been giving my son tips about framing a subject or holding still, but iPhones make photography pretty darn easy. Also, I’m hoping to live vicariously through him when he becomes a National Geographic photographer a la Jimmy Chin.
2. Recharge Glow-in-the-Dark Toys
My son thinks I have magical powers when I use the flashlight feature on my phone to “recharge” the wheels on his glow-in-the-dark Hotwheels car. Now, he will borrow my phone to do the same. Yes, obviously other light sources are capable of this magic, but my phone is ever present and its flashlight is quite bright.
3. Visible Timer
My sister, a former special education teacher, mentioned how useful visible timers had always been to her as a teacher. She sent me a link for such a timer on Amazon that was $25…I thought, there must be an app for that, and I was right! I found a free timer app by searching the app store for visible timers. The timer I use can be set for any amount of time and counts down in the form of a pie chart. As the time ticks by, the face of the timer reveals a picture. The free version includes a rubber duck, a robot, and some vehicles. My sons love it so far! The boys actually begged to clean up something else tonight just to watch the timer.
4. Face Time Family
This one is obvious, of course, however, sometimes we forget to make it a priority. With friends and family all over this country and the world, it’s nice to see everyone in motion. With little kids, you don’t have to make it a special occasion. My little Bear once face timed his cousin in Japan while taking a bath! It’s also a rare opportunity to snap photos of them “together” by taking screen shots…kind of like reaction pictures.
5. Look at Pictures
Again, this one may be obvious. However, I love looking at really old pictures of the boys and telling them the stories around the days they were born, etc. Additionally, I tend to snipe family photos right off the wall and have a good collection of pictures such as my father-in-law in high school, my sister in elementary school, and even my grandfather’s sister before her untimely death. I want my boys to know that our family story is a long one and that they are the next chapter.
One of my students recently uncovered an article that equated giving our kids technology with giving them cocaine. And I too worry about the addictive powers of tech on both me and my kids, however, it’s hard to imagine it playing less of a role in our future lives. In this light, I know that my message can’t be, avoid technology. Instead, I want them to use it for good and not evil. I want my boys to be producers rather than consumers. I want them to connect rather than disconnect. It’s a lesson that’s just as hard to learn as an adult, but equally worth pursuing.