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Communication made easy

By Kelly Skilton

When it comes to family connections and digital media, computers do not always get a good rap. The stories are usually along the lines of children being ‘glued’ to their phones, games and tablets rather than spending time with the family. With these stories being shared so often it is easy to forget that these technologies were created to help strengthen our connection with one another rather than distance it.

Though digital gatherings may have heightened during the COVID lockdowns, a lot of Australia’s didn’t need to adapt their routine family connections at all. With almost half of Australians having at least one parent born overseas, digital connections have always been a necessity for family gatherings.

Nia Lavaki, the VicTas Synod’s Younger Generations Multicultural Communities Coordinator, shares what digital communications means for her family to be able to connect with one another.

With moving to Melbourne last month, Nia’s connections with her family extend to Brisbane, New Zealand and Tonga – just to name a few.

“I cannot just get a plane,” Nia says. “Airfares are so expensive.”

Along with the distance, Nia says that time difference and phone reception create other disconnections the family has to consider.

“Reception in Tonga is not that great, and not everyone has a house phone.”

Though rather than this causing another layer of disconnection, Nia says that ever since the internet became a thing, it has remained the best form of communication.

“Mum and dad, kids, grandkids … the ideal way of communication is via Facebook messenger and video calls – because it’s free. When someone dies, when weddings are on, we are all there via livestream.”

Not only have these forms of communication enabled people to be able to connect together across time and place, but they have also helped older members of the family learn updated methods of technology. With global communications rapidly updating it is a common experience that many people feel they cannot keep up with the changes. By having family members connect together it means people meet intergenerationally, being able to share wisdom across ages.

Social media has also allowed for people to document their daily activities which not only builds talking points across the generations, but also helps share what daily activities look like for each person – and this includes the parents who are now sharing and livestreaming their days.

Being able to connect across common experiences is vital for healthy relationships.

“If there was no messenger, the relationships would not be what they are today. It has brought people closer because you can be talking (together) while driving, walking, shopping, laying in bed … even though there is the time difference, you can have time together.”

Whether it is through instant communications through social media, video calls, messenger chat groups, or even shared photo albums, digital technology has revolutionised the way we connect with our families. These connections have never been about replacing physical connection, rather they’re about us having more ways to connect and have time together.

What would it look like to have a messenger group with your children to write in throughout the day? Perhaps it might even be a way for you to send them some thoughts and encouragement to find at a later time, just so they know that you were thinking of them.

It might be a fun activity to ‘document’ your daily activities to help share them with grandparents, and let your grandparents do the same thing so that everyone can learn a bit more of each other and each of our daily activities.

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