Tech tips for working parents
Technology on a good day can be daunting, especially if it is not your comfort zone. Let us add a pandemic and virtual learning, with work from home, and it could be a recipe for being overwhelmed, frustrated, feeling guilt or despair. In other words…a disaster! What are some things that working parents can do to master managing the tech world with their children and family?
1. Understand the technology requirements. Even though it may seem like Greek, get to know the tech requirements and terminology that are important to you and your family. Make a list of the terminologies you should know such as bandwidth, memory, cloud storage, download speed and the like. Ask your school for device specifications when you purchase devices for yourself or children. Check in with your local internet provider for more about the services they offer and what you would need to meet the needs of your household.
2. Use cloud storage. You may be asking, “What is cloud storage?” It is a service provided by a hosting company that allows you to save information on a remote server referred to as “the cloud”. Saving to the cloud should be your new way of life. Saving to your computer and flash drives can increase your risk of information loss in the event something happens to your devices. When you save to the cloud, you can access your information from anywhere, from any device, at any time. This is helpful when you must work remotely or at the office. This helps students who may have blended classes or who need to complete coursework from different locations. You do not have to worry so much about running out of space with cloud storage, and if you do you, can easily purchase more.
3. Secure passwords and payment details. Our smartphones do a great job of saving passwords and credit/debit card information but it can also cause you to not remember what they are. This can cause you to have challenges trying to access your accounts from different devices. It is also important to keep track of subscriptions and recurring payments so you can track monthly expenditures and security controls so children cannot download paid materials and games without your permission. If you do not have a place to secure them, there is software available to secure your passwords and confidential data.
4. Take tech breaks. The necessity for tech breaks cannot be stressed enough. You need it as a working parent and your children need it as well. Use the down time for personal self-care for you – and them – to recharge (no pun intended). Too much screen time and tech time can take a toll on your posture as well, causing neck, shoulder, eye and back pain. It is also important to carve out time for family and friends, where you can play old fashioned low-tech games like bike riding, going to the park, swimming, walking, gardening, board games or taking on a hobby or project. How about establishing tech rules like no devices at mealtimes or only used for certain hours on weekdays or just on weekends? It will do you all a world of good, allowing everyone to refresh and reconnect with each other.
5. Be open to learn too. Spend time watching what your children are doing not only to monitor their progress but also to connect with them and learn what they are doing as well. Ask your children to show you more of the tech world that they enjoy and what they do not enjoy. Make it a moment you can connect with them to show interest and empathy for how they are navigating this virtual world. Do not think that because they are young that they are enjoying learning virtually. Some children, teenagers and young adults do not like it at all. Have a conversation around that so you can better support them as they need it.
This is a new and challenging world that we find ourselves in and we will not get through it successfully if we do not use strategies to understand and support each other as we learn and grow together.
• Simmone L. Bowe, MSc, SPHRi, is a seasoned human resource and organization development consultant and trainer, speaker, author, coach and mentor who focuses on helping business owners, leaders and professionals diagnose their people and performance problems and implement strategic solutions. Bowe is a trusted advisor of global leaders, providing consultancy support, training or coaching. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.