Grandparents: How to See the Grandkids All You Want

grandparents with laptopWhen I was growing up, nearly every vacation was spent traveling from Ohio to Indiana to see our grandparents. We also talked on the phone every Sunday. Sometimes cards and letters were exchanged too, but that was the entire menu for staying in touch. Thanks to technology, today’s grandparents have many additional ways to connect – so why aren’t more of them taking advantage of it?!

Recent grandparent studies indicate some are using the newer forms of technology to communicate with grandchildren, but I’m always surprised at how many aren’t.  Here are the numbers:

  • According to the 2011 AARP grandparenting study:
    • 58% of grandparents speak with grandchildren once a week
    • 26% say they use other technology (i.e. email, text, Skype combined) every few weeks or more
    • Nearly half (48%) say they never use other technology
  • The recent MetLife and Generations United Grandparenting study (2012) found:
    • 69% of grandparents typically communicate with grandkids via telephone; 64% say it’s the most enjoyable method
    • 12% use Skype; 11% enjoy it the most

While in-person contact is ideal and telephoning clearly comes in next, how about combining the two with video chatting? Since those who use it largely enjoy it, why aren’t more grandparents all over this tool?

I can think of a few potential reasons – and strategies to overcome the barriers.

  • Cumbersome technology. Setting up a webcam, an online account and getting started may be confusing and complicated. Strategy: Get a laptop or tablet with a built-in camera or check out an online video about how to set up and use video chatting. Better yet, ask your grandkids to teach you!
  • Matching phones or tablets. Some phones have video chatting built-in for easy use (such as the iPhone, which now has Face Time included.). But maybe your adult children or grandchildren don’t have the same type of phone. Strategy: Download a video chatting app like Skype to any smartphone.
  • Scheduling glitches. Everyone is busy. People live in different time zones. You may be settled at home when your grandkids are busy at soccer practice. Your grandkids may be ready to chat when you are out to dinner. Strategy: Video chatting using a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone lets you connect on the run. Suggest a live video stream of the soccer game. Say a quick hello in the car before dinner. It doesn’t have to be a long chat – just go with the virtual flow.

Technology allows you the opportunity to see your grandchildren grow up in “real time” like no generation of the past. Take advantage of it!

Follow Amy on Twitter @amygoyer and on Facebook.