March 25, 2020
Here are some easy ways tech can help you bond with your grandparents.
Grandparents: a word often associated with presents, special outings, yummy food and unconditional love. And yet, millions of our older loved ones are sitting at home, isolated and lonely, to protect themselves and others.
Thankfully, social media and other technology makes communication easier, more available, and much more fun. Social distancing doesn't have to mean social disconnecting. Just one call, one text or one video chat a day can your older loved ones know they aren't alone. Here are four ways technology can help you connect with them:
1. Messaging Apps
A recent study revealed that 73% of grandparents own smartphones, which means that the power to connect is already in the palm of their hand! Messaging apps like WhatsAppor Talkatone are a great introduction to texting for grandparents, who may only be used to longer telephone conversations, email or snail mail.
With messaging apps, you can send and receive text updates, photos and videos all in one place. And, when there is time for a longer conversation, you can use these apps to chat for free, as most don't use up cell minutes.
2. Video Chat
It can be difficult to go months on end without seeing your extended family, especially your grandparents. That's why video chat is such a great feature; it makes you feel as though you're in the same room as someone, regardless of geographical distance. You can use apps like Skype or FaceTimeto have a video conversation from virtually any device, which means you can enjoy a sunset with your grandparent, or show them new projects you're working on.
Video chat also comes in handy for big life events that your grandparent doesn't want to miss but is unable to physically attend, like birthday parties, graduations or even weddings.
3. Gaming and Creativity Apps
Nowadays, there's no shortage of interactive apps you can enjoy with a faraway relative. Creative apps like Magisto, FXGuru and PhotoFunia allow you to personalize photos and videos, which can make file sharing more special and fun. Looking for some friendly competition with your grandparent? Try a gaming app like Wheel of Fortune or Minecraft. Or keep your grandparent updated on your daily happenings with an app like Keepy; an interactive platform for sharing school projects and artwork.
Finally, a perfect way to cultivate connection is through a family tree app, like Ancestry, where you and your grandparent can discover photos and stories together as you navigate your own family history.
4. Social Media
Social media has become deeply embedded in the lifestyles of kids, teens, adults, and basically everyone. So why not bring the grandparents on board?
Try starting a private Instagram account where you post photos and videos for your family's eyes only. Grandparents have lots to share as well, so encourage them to make their own Instagram handles and record their stories. This can be a unique way to learn about your grandparent's past or to pass down family memories, post those Ancestry results, or share family recipes that may otherwise get lost over the years.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform among grandparents and can be a wonderful place to reconnect, as it's user-friendly and widely accessible. Snapchat is another option, as it’s functionally pretty basic, and allows you to send and receive custom pictures or videos with a variety of fun filters and lenses.
How to Help Your Grandparents
While nearly three-quarters of grandparents have Smartphones, only 44% identify as tech-savvy. Luckily, there's no better way to connect than helping your grandparent learn!
Teaching them how to use video chat and social media can be a bonding experience, and will help pave the way for easier and more frequent communication in the future. You can also set your grandparent up with useful home features like the SURE Universal Remote, which will allow them to control their TV and other devices from their Smartphone. Grandparents may not even realize that they can watch content from their mobile device, or schedule DVR recordings by using apps like Cox Connect.
Giving your elders the power to connect is not only useful, but it helps build relationships with the people you love most, and that's priceless at any age.