How Does Virtual Visitation Affect Children of Divorce?
Divorce is being affected by technological advances
In recent years, several states in the U.S. have started allowing and even encouraging virtual visitation as part of the divorce agreement. The purpose is to enable a divorced parent with whom the children are not living to enjoy connection time with their child by utilizing a variety of electronic communication tools. This can include video web chats, email dialogue, Face-time, sharing iPod music, playing iPhone games together or other technological interactions.
While many are embracing this reality as a means of maintaining a stronger connection between a parent and their child who is living apart, there are others expressing concern.
Some feel these technology-based alternatives are not a substitute for in-person visits. These divorce professionals are afraid that some parents will rely too heavily on virtual communication. They may forgo the trip to visit the children and feel less responsibility toward encouraging the in-person parent-child relationship.
In other cases the concern is that one parent will inhibit the other from enjoying personal visits with their child, using the virtual connections as an excuse to keep Dad or Mom away.
When that happens, the children miss out on the hugs, intimacy and other affection that only comes with one-on-one visits and time spent together.
However, for parents who are living far apart from their children and rarely get the opportunity for in-person visits, this new form of contact can be a real blessing. Sitting in front of the screen and chatting with Dad or Mom, face to face, can be quite fulfilling for children. They can hold up their artwork or new toys, show off their sports uniform or new shoes, scan reports or items of interest and maintain a more personal interaction with the non-residential parent.
Like with all things technological, it’s the consciousness behind the tool that will determine whether this new option will become an asset or disappointment in a child’s life. Divorced parents who sincerely care about their child’s well-being can work together to make virtual communication a welcome addition to their lives. Irresponsible parents will abuse this tool, like most others, paying little attention to the emotional effects on their own children.
Parents, it’s up to you to take the high road, make decisions with integrity and role model the best parenting practices you can for your children, remembering that they love both Mom and Dad and want them in their lives!