It is hard to make sure that our kids stay connected at the moment, but lockdown doesn't mean that our children can't maintain those all-important relationships and bonds with friends and family.
Communicating and socialising are vital for healthy and happy minds, and keeping on top of our children's mental healths during these unsettling times by keeping them social and connected with friends is vital. Schools and universities closing their doors means that our children are missing out on some significant social events; graduations are being postponed, leaver's balls have been cancelled and those end of summer term celebrations are being called off.
However, these don't all have to be completely abandoned as there are still ways our children can experience the fun of these occasions through all the wonders of modern technology and social media. Take a read below at some ideas we recommend for parents to help our kids to keep social and connected during these uncertain times.
Set Up A Virtual Playdate
What better way to get our kids connected with friends but through throwing a virtual playdate from the comfort of your own home. There are so many apps that allow you to make video calls that are also completely free! You're probably already familiar with FaceTime and Skype, but apps like Zoom have become so popular during lockdown and are the perfect platforms to let your little ones play with their friends online. Keeping our children connected and talking to the people they care about the most and are used to seeing most days at nursery or school is not only important for making lockdown more fun, but is essential for their wellbeing and social skills to develop. You can keep it very simple as well to make it less overwhelming for your little ones. You can video call their friends for simply a chat, to cook together, to play a game together, or even just to have by their side whilst they're getting their school work done. The comfort of having their friend next to them is so valuable.
Throw A Virtual Party
These video call apps like Zoom and Houseparty can be used to get in the party spirit and throw your own virtual celebration for your kid and their friends. Plan some food to eat, drinks, music and party games to play. With Houseparty there are even party games built into the app for your children and their friends to play against each other to really get in the competitive mood. A virtual party is a perfect way to for your kid's group of friends to come together, connect and just have a laugh.
Have An Online Quiz
For those who think their general knowledge is up to scratch, why not help your children host their own online quiz with their friends? This is something that can be done on a weekly basis too, with a different person having the job of being the quiz master each week and coming up with the questions to ask. Your kids can create different rounds and even make a prize for the winner at the end. It's something perfect for children of all ages too, as each of your kids can tailor their questions to what they and their friends love and enjoy most.
Video Games Can Be Encouraged
Despite the negative associations around video games encouraging more screen time and stopping outdoor play with our children, they can be a perfect way to let our kids stay connected with their friends during lockdown. A little bit of video game time during a day may actually be more beneficial than we first thought. With video game platforms like Xbox Live and Play Station Network having means that allow friends to play against and connect with each other through online gaming, these games can have a positive effect in allowing our kids to reconnect with friends and socialise during the day at home.
Have A Games Nights
Sitting around the table to play a board game may still be a possibility but done virtually. Games are inherently social and encourage us to connect and play with each other, and virtual gaming platforms are no exception to this, despite not playing against each other in the same room. Apps like Pogo mean that your kids can now play their favourite board games against their friends online! And Lets Play Uno and Pokemon Go are similarly both sites that encourage these positive and fun interactions between groups of friends. Or for something that involves no online gaming, a game of charades or Pictionary can easily be played through a video call, and are completely free and perfect for our littler ones to use their drama skills in front of their pals.
Hold A Film Night
What perfect way to spend an evening - having a friends film night. The powers of technology mean that we can now watch out favourite series and movies at the same time as our friends despite not being in the same room and watching it on the same TV set. Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that allows kids to watch films together, chat in the messaging room, and pause and play the movie in sync with each other. For added fun, you can also make this a themed film night for them. Get your children and their friends to dress up as their favourite movie character, make some themed snacks, grab the popcorn and get watching their all-time favourite films with their mates.
Start Pen Pal Messages With Friends
Despite technology playing a key role in how we choose to connect and socialise with our friends and loved ones during the lockdown, a more traditional approach can be taken. Encourage your children to write a letter to their best friend, who will then write one back so that they become lockdown pen pals! This is such a wholesome way to keep your kids connected to their loved ones, and can be such a creative way to reinforce those bonds. It teaches your children how to write and address a letter too, which is an all-important life skill to have.