Where would we be without our grandparents? They provide care; they keep children connected to family traditions, stories and culture; and they’re a wonderful source of fun, games and unconditional love. Studies have shown that close relationships between grandparents and grandchildren are good for the mental health of both groups. And for teens who’ve been bullied, a grandparent can be just the right sympathetic ear.
But right now, many grandparents and grandchildren are being forced to stay apart. One study of Australian families found that since COVID-19, the number of children being looked after by their grandparents has plummeted.
This is hard on everyone. But families can use technology to help bridge the gap.
Some grandparents are terrific with technology, but others appreciate a bit of help. Be Connected provides great lessons for seniors: from the basics of using devices, through to enjoying games and apps. And the eSafety Commission provides a clear run-down of the skills older Australians need to manage online during COVID-19.
If possible, get teens involved in talking to their grandparents about technology and coaching them to use it. This can help empower both younger and older people, give them new things to talk about, and help them understand each other better.
Think about your family’s priorities: Are you looking for a platform that’s free, easy to use, and accessible from all sorts of devices? Or a platform that’s highly secure and fixes breaches quickly? Or just a platform that your teens or grandparents already know well? Find out about the pros and cons of different platforms, and their history with privacy and security.
At present, FaceTime and Facebook Messenger may be the most popular options used by grandparents to connect with grandchildren during COVID-19. Other popular videoconferencing platforms include Zoom, Webex, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Houseparty, and Google Hangouts. Get the low-down on the most popular social media, games and apps here.
Make calls with grandparents a regular part of your family routine, if possible. Avoid times when children, teens or adults are likely to be tired, hungry or cranky! It helps to think in advance of things you can talk about and show each other, and to set your devices up so you’re avoiding glare or background noise.
Some families are happy to simply chat about what’s been happening. Others enjoy more interactive activities, such as:
Via videoconferencing, your family can also enjoy things like:
Nothing can really replace getting together in person. Grandparents and grandchildren can be frank with each other about how they are feeling, while also encouraging optimism and hope. It can help to: