Grandparents all over are learning that, when used without fear, technology can be an exciting bridge between generations. How to get started? Start by asking your grandchildren to show you what they like to do on the computers or smartphones. The first goal is to find activities and ideas at the intersection of your grandchildren’s online passions and your own interests.
Here are 6 Ways to use technology to connect with your grandchildren:
One of the coolest things you can do with your grandchild is playing online games together. Online games of building worlds and exploring fantasy universes such as “Minecraft” are very popular with children of all ages. Playing it together can be a great way to connect. It costs about $30 to buy “Minecraft” and you can play on your computer, but once you’ve done that, you can make online dates to play with the grandchildren, which is great if you live far away. Other great options could be games such as “Draw Something”, “Words with Friends”, “Ticket to Ride”, “Carcassonne”, “ Sesame Street and Lego games. Many online games have a chat function, and so give you a way of exchanging short messages along with your game play.
For genealogy fans, working on the family tree can introduce grandchildren to their own history and could be a great way to teach them about your own story. Websites, like Geni and Ancestry.com, allow multiple family members to collaborate as they add their own pieces of the family puzzle. Ask the grandchildren to fill in details on the immediate family, or encourage them to research an ancestor who interests them. You can get younger children interested in family history by introducing them to an app like Little Family Tree. With older children, share the results of what you’ve already learned about your genealogy. My big sister is a genealogist and a new grandmother.
Social-networking sites are changing the way we interact with one another, and with our grandkids. It is important to make sure they want you to be followed them. To keep that process private, some kids won’t want to be Facebook “friends” with parents or grandparents. It’s not necessarily that they have something to hide. “This is as much about the privacy to grow as it is the potential to share,” says Chris Brogan, president of the social-media agency New Marketing Labs. While Facebook is still the most-used social network for both adults and teens, your grandchildren might enjoy having you follow their Instagram or their videos on YouTube.
Video call and Hangouts
FaceTime or Skype are some of the best ways to make a video phone call. So, instead of calling someone on the phone and just hearing their voice, you call them on the computer, smartphone or iPad and actually see and hear them in real time. Seeing them on a screen is obviously not the same as hugging or kissing them, but it is an improvement over a simple phone call, especially when they are can’t yet carry on a conversation. There are many more sophisticated ways to interact digitally. If you have webcams, you can both sign up for Google+ and download the free hangout plugin. Then just “hang out” — with up to 10 grandkids at a time.
Spotify and iTunes
Connect with your grandchild by turning each other on to your top playlists. Spotify, iTunes are Pandora are some of the most popular streaming apps. Then take it to the next level by attending live concerts together. You might have to sit through a Selena Gomez experience, but it will be worth it when you see them singing along one of your favorite artists.