Parent Survival Guide: Virtual play dates during the pandemic

Updated: Jun. 1, 2020 at 9:00 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - By now the kids have been home for over two months from school missing those relationships with classmates as we continue to keep a safe distance from others.

Pediatric counselor Liz Meadows says for kids, like adults, that social connection to people their age is important.

To help, Meadows recommends parents setting up virtual play dates.

“Kids having that opportunity to connect with kids lets them know that there are still opportunitIes of connections through technology which allow them to say, ‘Ok everybody’s still healthy and ok,’” Meadows said.

Meadows says a virtual play date can be as simple as a few minutes just to catch up or longer. She says it should be based on your child’s age.

For preschoolers, it might be a sing along together or imaginary play. For school aged kids it can be doing a lego build or drawing together.

“A lot of times kids are just happy to see whoever is on the other side of the screen and just video calling or face timing is exciting for them and they want to share what’s going on in their lives,” Meadows said.

For big kids and tweens Meadows recommends playing a virtual board game or talking about the books you’re reading, even having a Netflix watch party.

She says parents can also get in on the action with their kids as well.

“I recently did a TikTok with my 9-year-old and she can only do it as a family, so we can make sure she is doing what’s appropriate," Meadows said. "It’s fun that’s how you connect with teens and get involved by showing interest, and we look silly but that’s what’s fun. They are going to share with us what they are doing and provide the guidance.”

There are plenty of video chat apps you can use for your child’s virtual play date, everything from Facetime to Kids Messenger.

She says while it’s important to let your kids reconnect with friends, with an increase in screen time and being online comes the potential for cyber bullying or other cyber safety issues.

Meadows says it's always good to monitor what your child is doing online.

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