Saturday, 30 July 2011

Modern technology a blessing or a curse for our third culture kids?

This week a colleague of mine had the honour of became granny for the first time in her life. A small grandson was born and she was elated! Of course we all had to hear her good news and see the photographs on her iPhone, but that was not all. She actually had the baby visible on her webcam, we could see him lying in his cot and moving his arms. When he was picked for a feed, the cot was empty. He was in a local hospital here in the Netherlands. I suppose it is rather special but how can you do your work if you can watch your grandson all day? What about the privacy of this newborn? It made me wonder if granny lived in New Zealand would she have been able to watch this baby too? Times a definitely changing. I nearly spelled "definitely" wrong because I spelled it "definately". I just discovered that definitely is the most misspelled word in the English language. Never too old to learn something new! By the way webcam was developed in 1991, but the first commercial webcam came on the market in 1994.

When I was born years ago in the Zambian bush my parents sent a telegram home to the family. My grandparents saw me for the first time on a photograph but that was weeks after I was born. These new possibilities can be a great advantage for families separated from their loved ones by many kilometres. Like the third culture kids (TCKs), children growing in in another culture. I came across a great article Grandparenting over the seas written by Libby Stephens. There is another article too How to bridge the gap: tips for long distance relationships.

Skype has made long distance calls very cheap and with the great possibility of being able to see each other. This is really good for children. When I was in Indonesia and our daughter who was 2 years old at the time was able to skype with me from home base in the Netherlands, it made her feel that I was nearby. When she was going to have her meal she asked "mum are you coming home now to eat too?"

Friends of mine recently moved abroad but on their blog they shared the added pressure the new possibilities create. How often do you skype with grandparents when you are living abroad? Sometimes with the time differences you have to be creative to be able to actually skype together.

In this day and age it is important that we talk to our kids about social media: Facebook, hyves (the Dutch youth),Youtube etc. For third culture kids (TCKs) the internet is a blessing, it makes it so much easier to stay in contact with friends all over the globe, but it can be a curse too. Just read the newspaper and see what kind of things happen using the internet. Listen and watch this: for one minute about social media and your kids. It is a short video from the website Healthy Children powered by pediatricians.

What are your experiences with having family far away? Are you able to bridge the gap? Please share your stories here, do you have advice for other families? Is the modern technology a blessing or a curse?


  1. nice post, thanks for sharing! always good to relate to parenting posts... I'm always on the lookout for resources for TCKs. thanks!

  2. Yes, there are potential negatives - safety issues and also the temptation to only interact online. But overall the benefit of not only staying in touch, but also connecting with others who share your experience is invaluable. There are still so many TCKs and ATCKs who have never heard of this term. Being able to put a name to how and why they feel the way they do can be a lightbulb moment for many.

  3. Thanks for both comments. I agree that there are still many TCKs en ATCks who have not heard of the term third culture kid or global nomad. It's true the internet is a really good way to connect with people all over the globe!