By Stacey Ross
My kids and their grandparents share a thriving digital relationship with one another, whether it’s playing (remote) checkers on a Sunday morning, sharing what projects they have been working on via video chat, or even getting some tutoring in for upcoming science tests! Technology that allows intergenerational ties to flourish is a real gift, especially since not all grandparents are a quick drive up the street!
Mary Larmoyeux and Nancy Downing wrote a valuable book, The Grand Connection: 365 Ways to Connect with Your Grandchild’s Heart, which encourages the relationship between grandkids and their grandparents, offering fun activities and stories to help strengthen family ties. The authors encourage grandparents to learn new technologies to stay in touch with loved ones. The book prompted me to share and explore how other families reach out this way.
Here are some ways families are getting on board:
Emailing and texting: My kiddos don’t yet have smartphones, but they do have tablets. They use Talkatone to text with their grandparents and email to exchange photos, whether they’re from nature hikes or an afterschool activity. Just an update every now and can brighten everyone’s day – and there is an extra-special glow when the grandparents get a goodie in their in-boxes!
“My kids FaceTime with my mom all the time. As adults we FaceTime with my grandmother, too. We called her from my sister’s wedding reception so she could “be there!” ~ Rachael Nash Wunderlich, founder of Adventures in Wunderland
“We have started to leave Skype video messages for Grandma and Grandpa instead of just a voicemail. The kids get a kick out of seeing themselves record it and my parents just love it!!” ~ Elaine McGhee of ThriveMomma.com
Like the idea of seeing one another while talking? If you own a personal computer with an Internet connection and built-in or clip-on camera, you are all set for Skype or FaceTime. The applications are free, and connecting with other users is the fun part! I love that my kids use these methods to show their grandparents what current projects they are working on or share their latest dance moves!
Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter
As kids get older, they can have fun engaging with their loved-ones through their social media accounts. I love watching inter-generational connections become meaningful ties, enabling families to stay connected in a more robust way than just by phone. Whether they are sharing photos from a road trip, funny videos they found on the Internet, or they just want to send a sweet message, family members can embrace simple ways to give a shout out that can be quite endearing.
My kids and their grandparents use the Magisto and FXGuru apps to send fun videos or photos and also use apps such as PhotoFunia and CollageMaker when they want to get creative. It gives them a big laugh and allows them to reflect either on the outings they had together or include one another in photos when they were unable to be present in person. Their personal creations are great trip mementos too!
Katie Tynes, a mom in my San Diego community, encapsulated so very well the benefit that technology plays in intergenerational communication: “We have always lived away from my parents due to our military life. Thanks to Skype, FaceTime and phone calls, my daughter has grown up with them and formed a bond that is stronger than anyone could wish for. They’ve read stories to her, listened to her learn to read, spent hours playing dolls and even attempted checkers, which was a riot to watch.”
What activities do your kids do to engage with their grandparents? Do you see open opportunities for them to grow in that area? Do share!
Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.