Grandparents, what's not to love?
Every time I visit my grandparents' house, my grandma cooks me great food, my grandfather passes on sage wisdom, and generally they spend hours telling me how I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm not going to lie, it's a good feeling. But, if you're like me, you don't see your grandparents nearly enough.
It doesn't have to be this way
With a little planning and a good dose of technology, you can get that warm-cozy, just came from grandma's house glow as often as your heart desires. Using technology to bridge the distance is just about the best thing that ever happened to inter-generational communication.
Here's how you can put your iPhone, tablet, or even smart watch to good use getting quality time in with your grandparents, no matter how far away they may be.
1. Get Your Grandparents Set Up With The Right Technology
It's worth the effort (and possible frustration) just to witness the expressions of joy and wonder on your grandparents' face when they actually figure out how to send a text on their smartphone, or take a pic with their tablet, or search for cooking recipes online. Be prepared for some glitches and mis-fired FaceTime calls, but overall the hassle will be worth the joy you spread by helping them get connected. But overall technology is designed to be extremely intuitive and you might just be surprised at how fast they pick it up.
Once you have them set up, why not create a simple cheat sheet with reminders on how to do some of the most basic functions. Enjoy the experience of being the one passing on the wisdom (for once), as you teach them how to use and interact with technology.
2. Spread The Social Media Love
Triple the fun by showing your grandparents how to take a ‘selfie’ and upload it to their social profiles on Facebook or Instagram. They don't have a social media account?! We might have guessed. Set one up for them - complete with customizing the privacy settings to match their comfort level - and help them stay connected to friends and family online. This is also a great way for them to have a window into your world and see what you're up to in your day to day life. Helping your grandparents become connected socially online shows you care and love them, which means the world for any grandparent—doesn’t it?
Once you've started your grandparents on the social media spree, be sure to follow it up with lots of posts and pictures through email, text, Facebook, encouraging them to reply to you in turn. A new haircut that your Granny got recently—wouldn’t it be cool to spot her with her new hairdo online and "like" her do?
3. Help Them Connect To Online Communities
Nothing beats my grandma’s cooking. Since I helped her start using a smartphone, she's actually taken her culinary skills up a notch (which I didn't think was possible). Now she's sharing cooking recipes and videos via Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Not only does she have a generous following online, she's even inspired me to cook more.
If your grandma or grandpa have a hobby they love (gardening, bridge, swimming), chances are there's a group or club online with like-minded folks who love it too. Help them connect to these groups online and show them how to post to message boards and become part of an online community. Encouraging your grandparents to share their interests with the world can boost their confidence and help you discover your own interests to share along with them.
4. Get Involved With Online Games
Have you ever tried playing online games with your grandparents? It is so much fun to see their childlike enthusiasm take over as they try their hardest to beat you. Sure, not every game is right for a grandparent, so choose wisely. Maybe Gears of Wars on XBox isn't quite your grandma's speed... but you never know! Introduce your grandparents to a handful of games and see if it's something they're interested in. Gaming can also help them with mental agility and staying sharp in their golden years.
5. Storytelling & Reading Together
My fondest memory of my grandparents has been storytelling. When I was younger they would read me stories that continue to inspire me even today. Thanks to Skype and FaceTime, it's now possible to establish a heartfelt connection with distant loved ones and guess what? Storytelling time has been rescheduled back in our lives as we exchange and read stories online together. Your reading selections may need to grow up a bit (or maybe not), try reading an excerpt of an interesting article you found online, or a passage from a book, or a few poems that you think are funny. Storytelling is a tradition that deserves a try in the digital age.
How do you connect with your family through technology? We’d love to hear about it.