Understanding how to connect with Millennials is a complex topic because they differ from other generations in several key areas, particularly their communication style. This is especially true for Baby Boomers who come from a completely way of understanding how and at what speed their world moves. For many grandparents, one of the biggest challenges that they face is learning the language of their grandchildren since it seems as though these young individuals live on a different planet. While there may always be an age gap, there are many things that we can do in order to better understand our grandchildren.
Social Media 101
For some grandparents, Social Media can be a foreign language too scary to understand. However, if you want to connect with Millennial grandchildren, this could be a great opportunity, especially if they live far away. Another great things about social media is that you can have your grandchild actually teach you the basics. It could be great bonding opportunity and a great excuse to do something together. Don’t be scared, increasing your senior internet presence is a healthy goal. Research from the Stanford Center for Longevity has shown that Senior Citizens represent the fastest growing demographic of users on social media. A study conducted by Veronica Rempusheski of the University of Delaware School of Nursing showed that college students who spoke frequently with their grandparents by phone had more positive perceptions of their grandparents than those who didn’t. Phone contact predicted positive feelings almost as much as did face-to-face get-togethers. Add to this phone contact the many opportunities to connect through face time, Facebook, and email, and the miles between you can melt away.
Try Your Hand at New Technology (and learn more your Grandchildren)
There are so many seniors who find that technology is simply so confusing that in fact that they won’t even give it a try. However, what sets today’s grandparents apart is the use of technology to redefine the relationship between grandparent and grandchild. FaceTime is more popular with Millennials, with almost 35% saying they video chat with this tool and 27% use Skype to deepen the relationship between the two generations that sandwich them.
Do not be afraid of new ways of connecting with them. Technology can bing Grandparents and Grandchildren closer together. Technology can do more than offer a platform for connection between generations. It can offer a way to bond and learn from each other. Studies show that grandparents and their grandchildren develop important digital citizenship skills and form stronger bonds when exploring the internet and learning about technology together.
Your GrandKids Are Not Your Tech Repair Guys
You may be surprised to hear that most new technology is meant to make life easier not more complicated, so try a new piece of technology, see how it can change the way you do things and most importantly see how it helps you better relate to your Millennial grandkids. One thing to consider when you deal with your new gadgets is that Millennials could resent being used as technology tutors. They especially dislike your frustration when they can’t fix or adjust your device in two seconds. Each device is distinctly different and has a learning curve, even for high skilled Millenials. What you don’t know is that they spend hours figuring out technology as well. Most important, respect that they may not want to figure out just because they’re young. Don’t burden them with all your tech inquiries and then criticize them for being addicted to technology. You either ask for help nicely or you criticize them, but you can’t do both.
Listen more, lecture less
Baby Boomers have to do more learning and less lecturing. Familiarize yourself with hot topics and you can start striking up conversations with your grandchildren easier and find new ways to relate to them. Who knows, this may only be the beginning and your grandchildren may start to introduce you to even more Millennial-centered parts of the world. Simply asking your grandchildren about their online activities can be a great opening to a whole new set of conversations and shared experiences. The key is to find things at the intersection of your grandchildren’s online passions and your own hobbies or interests. They may even let you teach them a thing or two, as you start to find new common ground to connect on. We already know what we know. Listen to your grandchildren because there is a new world our there and they can tell us how it works.
Millennials Appreciate Honesty
Ask a millennial what he or she thinks about something, and you’ll get a direct, truthful response—in fact, one that can sometimes sting. This can be a huge put-off for some people who are used to more diplomatic, even evasive communication styles that are designed to save face. Encourage them to speak up on projects they’re working on, and solicit their opinion on your own problems. They may have an idea or suggestion that can provide a fresh approach.