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Mendo Lake Family Life

5 Ways to Make the Most of a Virtual Toddler Play Date

Virtual play dates are here to stay for a while. The children’s advocacy nonprofit Zero to Three offers these tips for making sure they go well.

1. Make play dates social, interactive experiences. Try rhymes, songs, dancing, and games like peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek that young children can participate in with their screen buddies.

2. Use props. Puppets and stuffed animals are great props for virtual play. Also, sharing a snack together is a favorite among young children.

3. Be the “hands and heart” of the person on-screen. When the screen buddy “tickles” your baby’s tummy, give your child’s tummy a tickle, too. When a friend leans toward the screen for a “hug,” you can give a real hug to your child.

4. Explain any technical difficulties. Tell the child why the call dropped, or why the visiting friend may appear to “freeze” on the screen or not be looking directly at them. Explaining these experiences in simple terms helps children better understand both the technology and the interaction.

5. As they grow, let children take the lead. For example, toddlers can learn how to touch the green button to call or red button to hang up.