Before the pandemic, children’s summers and weekends were filled with sleepovers, backyard sports games, and movie nights at the local theatre. These are just examples of activities kids often enjoy doing together with their friends.
However, due to the pandemic and the occasional quarantine order, these in-person activities are not always possible or in our kiddos’ best interests.
How can we accommodate our growing social butterflies while also looking after their health?
Fortunately, we have a ton of different virtual options for coordinated playdates to keep your kiddo socially active even if in-person activities are not an option:
- Teach your kiddo about online safety. Before allowing your child some freedom to use the internet for social connection, let them know in a calm and clear manner that there are some dangers to using the internet. For instance, let them know about online impersonators, viruses and malware, pop-ups, and obscene material. Keep your computer in a public area of your home, and let them know that if any concerns arise, they can confide in you immediately. Here is a great resource for parents wanting to teach their kids online safety: https://us-cert.cisa.gov/ncas/tips/ST05-002
- Set some ground rules and boundaries surrounding screen time. Though virtual tools are great for keeping your kiddo socially active, there need to be some boundaries. Sit down with your child and other family members to discuss and establish some ground rules (e.g., no online activity an hour before bedtime). Type up the list of rules, post them near the computer area, and let your kiddo know what the consequences will be if the rules are not followed.
- Netflix watch party. No movie theatres, no problem! If you and your family have a Netflix subscription, you can coordinate with your child and their friend’s families to set up a Netflix Watch Party. You can even complete the experience by making some popcorn and other snacks to recreate a movie theatre environment in your own home.
- Tabletop simulator and other online games. Who doesn’t love a good board game with friends on a rainy day? Online applications, such as Tabletop simulator allow you to play games and share them privately with known friends.
- Virtual activities with known friends and family members. You can use video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet to set up playdates with your kiddos and those they know and love. If you have a budding artist, you can set up a Zoom call with your CHILD and their friends to do some finger painting. Tailor activities to the interests of your kiddo and their friends and/or family members.