grandparents on beach with kids
Don’t you love watching your kids interact with your parents? Grandparent relationships are special but can’t always take place in close proximity.
My children have never lived in the same town as their grandparents, but we’ve always encouraged relationships between them. Through technology, children have a variety of options to stay connected to their grandparents, regardless of where they live.
Here are a few ideas to help you strengthen the grandchild/grandparent relationship through the use of technology:
1. Skype Skype is a fun way for your kids to visually connect. All you need is a personal computer with an internet connection and a built in camera or a clip on camera. Download the Skype application for free and connect with any other Skype user. It’s a great way for your children to personally connect with their grandparents as they see each other while talking. I love the idea of my kids using Skype to demonstrate a Science project or show off pictures from a cheerleading competition with their grandparents. It’s also a wonderful way for children to have a visual reminder of their grandparent and makes it easier to bond with younger children.
2. Texting Most tweens and teens carry cell phones and text with each other non-stop. You might need to encourage your children’s grandparents to begin the texting routine, but once they develop the habit, they’ll discover how easy it is to fire off a text and find out how what’s happening with their grandchild. One grandparent who texts with her grandchild frequently says, “The best part of texting with my grandchildren is receiving a text at the end of the day that says ‘I love you.’” Texting allows kids to let go of the “coolness” factor and have meaningful conversation with their grandparents.
3. Facebook Social media sites abound in the tween/teen world and Facebook is one site used often by older kids and adults. It offers grandparents a unique way to keep up with events and pictures their grandchildren are sharing with friends. Older adults may not be comfortable posting to Facebook but can easily log in and view what their grandchildren post. Teens love to post pictures from everyday events, in addition to comments about their latest game, project, school, or other fun happenings. It’s a great way for grandparents to peer into the life of their grandchild in a non-imposing way.
4. FaceTime Similar to Skype, FaceTime allows your kids to see their grandparents while they converse through a video call. Introduced by Apple, FaceTime is available through the Iphone 4 or later, Ipad2 or later, Ipad Mini, Ipod touch 4th gen or later, and Mac with Mac OS X v10.6.6 or later. It’s easy to use and conveniently connects you with another Facetime user over a WiFi or cellular data connection. It’s another great way for grandkids to personally see smiling faces and proud expressions as they share experiences with their grandparents.
5. Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest, etc. A variety of other social media sites can be utilized to promote communication between grandparents and grandchildren. The key lies in what sites your children enjoy using and whether they can convince their grandparents to try them. Tech-savvy grandparents might enjoy branching out into other forms of technology after mastering the basics if they find it beneficial to their relationships.
It’s not unusual for grandchildren and grandparents to live miles away from one other. However, that doesn’t have to prevent a meaningful relationship between them. It may require some prodding in the beginning to get your parents to venture out into the world of technology, but it’s worth the effort.
Older generations are often intimidated by technology due to their lack of knowledge. Mary Larmoyeux, co-author of “The Grand Connection: 365 Ways to Connect with Your Grandchild’s Heart,” says she had to learn to be uncomfortable as she discovered the best ways to connect with her grandchildren. She encourages grandparents to “learn new technology if that’s what it takes to stay in touch with loved ones.”
It might work best for your children to introduce their preferred way to connect when the grandparents come to visit and show them how to use the technology. Practicing the method together will give grandparents confidence in using it before trying it on their own. And encouraging your children to be patient as their grandparents get used to the new technology will help the process.
Don’t despair if your parents have less opportunity to visit as the aging process takes over or if your job moves you to a different part of the country. Hook up your parents with the latest technology and encourage your children to foster their grandparent relationships through other mediums that offer engaging and meaningful interaction.
Gayla Grace is a freelance writer and mom/stepmom to five children who enjoy connecting with their grandparents through technology.