Bob Stephen

I am the Vice President for Home and Family at AARP. That means I get to work with folks all across AARP to make sure we understand what is most important regarding family relationships and connections -( caregiving and kids) and staying in your home and community and are delivering the right information and services. My family includes my wife, two teens, pets, and four generations of family spread across the country.
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Over the past few weeks, I've written about the gaming study by Dr. Jennifer Jacobs Henderson, associate professor and department chair, and Dr. Aaron Delwiche, associate professor, of the Department of Communication at Trinity University. For the final installment in this series, I want to focus on a very interesting insight from Drs. Henderson and Delwiche - many older gamers really like the mentoring aspect of multiplayer online games. It's not about the competition but about helping others.
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I've been writing about the landmark gaming study by Dr. Jennifer Jacobs Henderson, associate professor and department chair, and Dr. Aaron Delwiche, associate professor, of the Department of Communication at Trinity University. Their study is based on over 32,000 users of  Wizard101, an online multiplayer game that surprisingly has a large number of 50+ users. One of the biggest surprises to us at AARP are the findings that show gaming benefits for caregivers and those who have gone through a challenging life transition.
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Over 60 percent of Americans over the age 50 are grandparents. But, as the average age of a first-time grandparent in the United States is 48, there are also a number of grandparents under 50, too. So, grandparents are something we feel is important to understand at AARP. We know that grandparents want to increase the connection to their grandkids and want to help get them on the right path in life. But, there are barriers - distance or physical limitations can limit interactions and basic generational differences particularly around technology can also be issues. In their landmark study, Dr. Jennifer Jacobs Henderson, associate professor and department chair, and Dr. Aaron Delwiche, associate professor of the Department of Communication at Trinity University, found that massive multiplayer games like Wizard101 are one way that grandparents are overcoming both barriers.
senior gamers
In my last blog post, I described a very large study of 32,000 users of the free online multiplayer game, Wizard101.
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At a conference last year, several of us at AARP had the chance to hear about the ways in which the 50-plus and those not quite 50 find benefits in playing online multiplayer games.  There are several parts of that last statement that tend to elicit pushback from others - first, many believe online multiplayer video games are played by teens or young millennial men.  Second, the idea of a multiplayer video game may elicit images of violent games which in the mind of some do not have value.  It turns out that data on gaming plus a soon-to-be released study show both of these assumptions are wrong.
Driving has changed - we can all use a driver safey refresh
My second child is learning to drive. In our state one of the requirements for driver education is for the student and a parent to attend a 90-minute seminar on safe driving. I'll admit that I was not looking forward to attending this session, but left having learned far more than I imagined possible.
Grandparents and Parents can work together make college a reality.
We are currently in the midst of completing the college search for one son and beginning the college search for our second son.  We've needed a crash course to keep up with the application and search process these days but the savings work had started years earlier.  While most of the work falls to the parents and the student, the whole process of saving for school is very much a multi-generational activity.      I'd like to share some of our lessons learned.
Like generations before, GenX is family focused but is also the new sandwich generation
By way of introduction, I am both AARP's Vice President of Home and Family and among the first members of Generation X.  My role at AARP involves working with all of my co-workers to make sure that we know what issues are important to the fifty plus around home and family and working to address those issues through the things we do.  This involves five related topics:
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