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Connecting with Grandkids in the Digital Age

by Jeff Dailey
Connecting with Grandkids in the Digital Age
We often get set in our ways. Social media and other forms of advanced technology didn’t exist a decade ago, so it can be difficult for some of us – particularly the older generation – to get used to Facebook, texting, Skype, and how apps work.
The good news is that, while some seniors may not immediately embrace technology, many of them find it fairly easy once they try it. A study was conducted by the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking and performed on 591 participants with an average age of 68 years old. Of those, 77% percent found that technology was not difficult to use. In addition, 72% said that they were not opposed to learning new technology.

When used in moderation, social media also offers health benefits. That’s because socializing with others – particularly with grandchildren – can ward off boredom and loneliness in seniors, but this can be difficult for those with mobility issues. Seniors who use Facebook and other apps appeared to be happier with life and less likely to develop depression. They were also less likely to develop high blood pressure and chronic conditions such as diabetes.

This is good news for grandparents who live far away, but who still want to keep in touch with grandkids. Being open to technology can help grandparents strengthen the bond with even with their youngest grandchildren. Here are some ways to stay in touch with younger family members through social media and texting.

Apps to Try

Everybody has heard of Facebook. Facebook is a great way to connect with friends and family members all over the globe. It’s also easy to use. If you’re new to this popular platform, simply go to Facebook.com and create a few account. You can type in names of grandchildren, children, siblings – anyone else you know and would like to connect with – and add them as friends. When they accept your friend requests, you’ll be notified whenever they have updates. Be sure to update your page regularly as well. Upload photos and add status updates so that everyone can see how you’re doing.

Twitter is another popular social media platform. Your grandchildren will primarily have Facebook accounts, so check to see if they have Twitter accounts as well. If so, you can create your own free account and also communicate with them through Twitter. Just go to Twitter.com and “follow” your family members to have access to all of their updates.

Status updates are called “tweets,” which consist of 140 characters or less. This is what mainly differentiates Twitter from Facebook. Status updates on Twitter are short and sweet, whereas Facebook has no character limit. Twitter may seem a little more complicated, due to all the features. Just know that you likely won’t have to use most of them.

Instagram is also popular, but it’s different in that it focuses on photos, not text. Instagram allows users to share their world through photos. While you can comment on your family members’ photos, you can’t really do a lot of direct communication with Instagram. It is, however, fun to see photos that your grandchildren take throughout the day so you can see the world through their eyes. To get started, just go to Instagram.com and follow your family members to see their recent uploads – sometimes on an hourly basis.

Pinterest is another commonly-used app, but it’s different from the three discussed above. This social media platform allows users to “pin” items they’re interested in and store them all on an online board. Pinterest isn’t used as a communication tool, but it allows you to see what your grandchildren are interested in, which can helpful when it’s time to buy birthday and Christmas presents. Connecting with Grandkids in the Digital Age
For example, your grandkids may “pin” clothing items, entertainment icons, sports teams, animals, and more. You can create a free account on Pinterest.com and follow your family members to get an idea of what interests them nowadays.

Skype is another communication tool that grandparents should have. Skype is not a social media platform, but rather a way for you to make phone calls over the Internet. One important benefit of Skype is the ability to make video calls – if your computer or mobile device has a camera –which grandparents will enjoy.

They’ll get to see their family members in real time, which is great when the grandkids live far away but are constantly growing and getting big. Skype also offers instant messaging, which can allow you to keep in constant contact with family members throughout the day.

Texting Connecting with Grandkids in the Digital Age

Texting is also hugely popular among tweens, teens, and young adults. Texting allows you to send short messages to someone’s mobile device 24/7. Many people want to be in constant communication with friends and family members throughout the day, and texting offers this form of instant messaging. Unfortunately, many young people lack the patience required to wait for an email or phone call, so texting offers quick and easy communication that takes mere seconds.

With all the shorthand and emoticons, many seniors may avoid texting because they cannot understand the messages. While texting can take some time to get used to, it’s a great way to communicate with busy family members.

You don’t have to have a reason to send a text. You can simply tell your grandson that you’re thinking about him. You may want to ask your granddaughter how she’s doing in school. Your grandkids will likely text you back quickly with updates. When you receive a text, you’ll want to respond quickly – at least by the end of the day but even sooner if possible.

Texting is an informal way of communication, so you don’t have to worry about proper spelling and punctuation. In fact, you’ll likely see numerous acronyms that don’t make sense to you. This handy guide lists more than 1,000 common abbreviations and acronyms used in texting. It can help you translate texts from your grandchildren and help bridge the communication gap.

With the apps and communication methods listed here, you’ll never have to worry about losing touch with family members ever again. Co
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