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Connecting Grandparents and Grandkids Through Technology

The internet provides unprecedented opportunities for extended families and generations to stay in close contact even when geographically separated.

Creating and maintaining a bond with grandparents or other seniors benefits youth in several ways. Seniors can be great role models, teachers and influences. They can provide a sense of cultural heritage and family history. They frequently have more time than busy single, or two career parents to spend interacting with a child. And, because they aren’t the parents, they are often better at listening to and helping troubled teens.

Similarly, grandparents and other seniors reap real benefits of interacting with their grandchildren or other youth. These benefits include staying more active and engaged, learning to use the internet in more ways, and an ongoing sense of value and purpose.

A study released in Feb. 2012 by Microsoft and AARP titled, Connecting Generations, found that teens are actually communicating more with their parents and grandparents, and vice-versa, due to the use of social media tools and other online tools that enable cross-generational interactions and richly rewarding connections. Learning how families are encouraging these cross generational interactions can help provide a richer online and offline experience for your family.

Today, about 50% of seniors use the internet[1] at least to do some basic things, but many are very tech savvy having been on the cutting edge of internet development during their careers.

The Microsoft and the AARP study found that:

  • 83% of parents, grandparents and teens consider going online to be helpful forms of communication
  • 30% of grandparents, and 29% of teens say connecting online helps them better understand each other
  • 40% of teens help their grandparents go online
  • 25% of teens communicate with their grandparents several times each week through social media
  • 68% of those older than 39 have a page on social networking site
  • 70% of teen say the computer increases the quantity of their communication with family members living far away, and (67%) say it increases the quality of those communications

Those are really positive indicators about the health of extended family communications and demonstrate how well the internet can be leveraged to maintain bonds even when distance separates family members.

There are also close to 3 million kids and teens whose grandparents are acting as their parents, plus 43% of grandparents in the U.S. who regularly help with child care. For these grandparents and grandchildren, exploring the internet and learning to safely, effectively and responsibly use online tools is critical to helping these youth develop into capable digital citizens with the life skills needed for the future.

For youth in today’s fast paced society many ‘role models’ lack the values you’d like your child to learn. With this in mind, the more adults they have in their lives that can model positive behaviors, who will love and support them, encourage their activities and spend time with them, the richer everyone’s lives will be. And by combining knowledge and sharing lives, both seniors and teens have much to gain.

References

1: http://www.emarketer.com/blog/index.php/tag/number-of-seniors-online/

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