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Stepping Away from Technology

Updated: Jun 28

Technology provides many benefits, including allowing us to remain connected to a global community and having access to knowledge instantly. However, technology can also be a barrier to connection. Our youth spend hours engaging with apps on their phones, playing video games, learning the latest TikTok moves, and keeping up with influencers. Parents and caregivers must be aware of the content they are ingesting and provide opportunities for connection away from their devices. Being intentional about engaging our children in culture-centered activities can help them foster positive racial identity and develop healthy social skills.

Technology as a Support

Technology is a pathway to connect with our youth in many ways. I enjoy learning the latest dances with my nieces or playing video games with my godchildren. Also, engaging our children in conversation about their views on social media is essential. Asking about the people they are following or the music they listen to can foster connection. It also provides an opportunity to share about the music you like. Although I enjoy an excellent handheld book, electronic apps allow book downloads. Enjoying a book together and discussing it is also a way to connect with our children while offering information about our culture.

Stepping Away from Technology

As a clinician, I am struck by adolescent clients needing more in-person social skills. They are so accustomed to communicating via text or social media that they struggle to initiate or maintain a face-to-face conversation. As parents and caregivers, we can create opportunities away from fun and engaging technology and infuse cultural elements. For example, playing cards (Spades, Pitty Pat) in your community provides a skill our children can use in multiple settings. Also, sharing stories of the past about their family helps them remember their history and connect to their story. Being active with our youth is also important. Teaching them to play double dutch or taking them to play in the park or an excellent museum are all ways to help them learn about their culture while having fun and building social skills.

5 Things You Can Do to Help Your Child Engage More

  1. Plan an Impromptu Dance Party!

Turn off your phones to avoid distractions. Then, pick a playlist with some party music (ensure no foul language is involved and the music is age-appropriate). After that, turn up the volume and get on the dance floor. If your child is shy, encourage her/him to step outside her/his shell, dance, and feel the music (dance as though no one was watching). Dance as long as you like, but be sure to hydrate after with a tall glass of water for both of you.

2. Rummage Through Family Recipes and Pick One To Make Something Together. 

Most families have family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. Other families have recipes they've collected from cousins, aunts, uncles, and even neighbors. It's time to collect and organize those recipes so that they can be shared with your children. Would organizing the recipes into a family cookbook be fun? Then, you and your child can rummage through the cookbook for the right recipe that hits your fancy. The two of you can make something together that could be something simple, like a favorite iced tea recipe, or it could be something a little more complicated, like a cupcake recipe. Whatever you select, making it will be most of the fun.

3. Write Letters to Family Members

Nowadays, in which very few of us receive letters anymore, writing letters is a wonderful idea. Sitting down with your child to write letters is more than just correspondence. This is an excellent opportunity for parents to learn more about their children's writing skills. It can also be an opportunity for reflection. Writing requires a great deal of reflection, concentration, and remembrance. Writing is a form of mindfulness. The act of writing allows us to think deeply and to think outside of ourselves. Most importantly, writing to someone will enable us to express our feelings and thoughts with another human being. It is a selfless act. This is a beautiful activity in which we teach our children compassion, love, and togetherness.

4. Plant Something Inside, Outside, and All-Around

This is one of the best activities for your child to help them reduce their screen time and engage more with others. Planting a seed is not only metaphorical; it is literally beginning something new. Children love to plant seeds and then watch as their plant grows; it is a beautiful lesson in life. Nurturing plants is a stairstep to nurturing oneself, nurturing relationships, and eventually nurturing another human being. Working with plants also teaches children about the cycle of life. They learned the importance of caring for something outside of themselves. And, if you plant a vegetable or a fruit, children will delight in eating something they've grown. You can share This wonderful teachable moment with your child; the lessons will reverberate over the years.

5. Teach Your Child the Meaning of Community

There is a South African term, Ubuntu. The meaning of this term is roughly, "I am because we are." this phrase is often used to help individuals understand that they did not get there by themselves. Instead, we want to instill in our children a love for their community and understand the value of interdependence. A collective identity provides us with resilience in the face of historical trauma and reassurance about our self-worth, self-identity, and self-determination. Therefore, one of our activities that helps our children to engage more needs to include a selfless act that supports the community. This could be cleaning up the neighborhood by picking up trash on a particular street. It could also involve creating a read-one-leave-one neighborhood library. Allow your child to make a list of possible activities, and then the two of you can discuss the feasibility of each one and then settle on which one will be enacted. This is a valuable lesson for every child.

If you are interested in learning specific culture-centered strategies to foster a healthy racial identity in your child, visit 

Additional Resources:

Young, Gifted, & Black: Black Children as Agents in Their Own Liberation

Black children are impacted by race-based stress as early as pre-birth. Current studies in the area of race-based stress show the relationship between perceived racism and pre-term births for Black mothers. Additionally, research has shown a correlation between bias/discrimination and low birth weight. Health disparities, job discrimination, educational hegemony, and racism in housing all contribute to negative emotional and psychological well-being for Black children. This webinar brought together Black youth to form a panel to discuss their exposure to race-based stress, social-justice interventions and outreach, and their research activities on historical trauma within the Black experience.

5 Africentric Parenting Skills That Correlate to High Academic Achievement

This training offers an overview of contemporary studies on Black parenting concepts and interventions. Participants gain insights into effective parenting strategies correlating with high academic achievement in Black children.

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