Lance Cpl. Alejandro Bedoya
The internet has become a primary tool to find resources and information and to connect with like-minds. The Department of Defense supports a website called Military Kids Connect, which helps children to cope with the stresses of that come with being a military child, like a parent’s deployments or having to frequently relocate.
Extended periods of time away from a parent can undoubtedly be difficult, but this website is one of several resources available to aid.
Military Kids Connect is an online community for children ages six to 17. Conceived in 2010, militarykidsconnect.org is now a fully operational website that provides support and resources for children when their parent leaves for deployment.
The website is divided into three categories designed to cater to the age group of the child: kids ages six to eight, tweens ages nine to 12, and teens ages 13 to 17. While most features remain the same across all age groups, only kids ages nine and up are eligible for the use of the online message boards.
With their parent’s permission, children can easily register for an account, giving them access to everything the website has to offer. A virtual passport, which can be filled with stamps and keeps track of the progress children make through playing games. A feature called Deployment Daily takes sensitive topics such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and prepares children to understand what it is.
Age-appropriate activities can also be found on the site, such as a fully interactive comic creator and scrapbook. Children can also check out the games tab and play Word Recon, a word-search puzzle, or a spot-the-difference game featuring cultural scenes from Afghanistan, among others. At the top of the page, kids can even see the time and temperature in Afghanistan, giving them an idea of what their loved ones might be doing.
Children may also find significant support with the connectivity of the online message boards. Available for children ages nine to 17, the message boards allow for direct discussions between other children with deployed parents. Here they can openly share ideas and experiences with one another, and take comfort in knowing they are not alone in being separated from a parent.
Online safety is priority at Military Kids Connect. Parents and caregivers can monitor the activities of their child and even navigate the site itself to see what is available for their child to do. Adult educators have a section to access the website as well.
Military Kids Connect is a resource incentive for children to come together and share with one another their thoughts when a parent is thousands of miles away. The challenge of being alone is a burden that may be lifted through friendship.