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Engaging Families in a Hyperconnected World – Adapting to New Expectations

“Early years programs must explore new channels to engage hyperconnected families, however, it is important to evaluate the needs of the center, children, families and the community  when making this decision.”

What does the term “hyperconnected” mean?

Let us start by defining what is meant by “hyperconnected”. We defined this in a previous blog post as a term that refers to the widespread adoption of Internet-enabled technology devices allowing people to be continuously linked to other people and to information globally. A central component of the hyperconnected society is the significant trend of mobile technology adoption.

Toget a better sense of the scope of this phenomenon, here’s some statistics that help drive the point home:

As of 2019, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 144 minutes per day, up from 142 minutes in the previous year.  The Economist Intelligence Unit that really gets to the core of what hyperconnectivity is really about – “More than a technological trend, hyperconnectivity is a cultural condition to which businesses have no choice but to adapt.” The key message here is that hyperconnectivity isn’t a trend, but rather a fundamental change in our culture and our society. It’s not going away like trends sometimes do. Quite the opposite, it’s here to stay and, if anything, will become increasingly relevant. 

What is the impact of a hyperconnected society on early childhood education?

It’s important to frame the impact of the hyperconnected society in terms of expectations. Expectations are different from what they were in the past. This applies to anyone that is part of the hyperconnected world, including an increasing number of families that you work with in your child care or early learning programs. In particular, there is an increasing need for communicated information to meet the following criteria:

  • Timely – The hyperconnected society wants information now. For example, we used to put up with commercials during TV breaks, but now prefer services like PVR and Netflix where we can skip through advertisements or avoid them all together.
  • Accessible – The hyperconnected society wants information to be at their fingertips. For example, more and more families are choosing online grocery shopping and next day delivery options through large corporations like Amazon. We’ve grown accustomed to one day shipping which has set new expectations for the postal service and our needs.
  • Relevant – The hyperconnected society wants information to be specific to their needs. For example, we used to pick up the yellow pages to look up what we wanted to order in for dinner, but now we open an app on our smartphone and filter for delivery options by neighbourhood, price point and type of cuisine to get specific recommendations.
  • Stimulating – The hyperconnected society wants information to catch their attention. Enter Tik Tok, this app features 1 minute or less videos to keep users engaged and it shows- it’s the most downloaded app in the Apple App store surpassing YouTube and Facebook. channels with imagery and video.

Social media, blogs, messaging apps, cloud storage, webcams, and even email can communicate information to parents in a format that is, for the most part, timely, accessible, relevant, and stimulating. However, meeting the needs of your hyperconnected families is only part of the challenge.

How do I assess the internal implications of new digital channels?

In addition to making necessary adjustments to your communication channels to engage your hyperconnected families, we must also look internally to determine the feasibility and implications of implementing new channels. We can frame this using 3 main themes:

  • Process – How will I implement this new communication channel? With what frequency? What type of information will be sent or received? How will I document and communicate the established process?
  • People – Who will be the owner of this process? Who will be accountable? What policies do we need in place? What capabilities are required and do we have those capabilities? What training is required?
  • Technology – What tools will we use to help us? What is involved in setup and configuration? What hardware is required? How much does the hardware / software cost? Is there support provided for the technology?

There is no single answer to how you should engage your hyperconnected families. Every early education program has a unique culture with individual needs and communities stemming from its families and educators. The important thing is to adapt to the changing expectations of your families while considering the needs of your business, your staff, the children and the community.. If you’re interested in implementing a communications tool at your center, we’d love to help! We have helped thousands of child care and early learning programs communicate with their families. Let’s start the conversation on how HiMama can help you today!

Ron Spreeuwenberg

Ron is the Co-Founder & CEO of HiMama, where he leads all aspects of a social purpose business that helps early childhood educators improve learning outcomes for children.