Bridging the Generational Communication Gap - the New Digital Grandparent

Bridging the Generational Communication Gap - the New Digital Grandparent

Published: Dec 4th, 2020

Today, families often can't be in the same place due to COVID-19 or because they are far apart. Technology offers great options for grandparents to connect to grandchildren and other family members.

The digital world can be frightening as it evolves further and further beyond anything you would have imagined being possible 50 years ago. Yes, you may have to change some of your habits and be open to using the many gadgets that can connect you to those you love. While most grandparents would rather talk verbally or in-person, it seems that most grandchildren would rather text or use other types of technology. Even middle-aged adults are enjoying the convenience of technology when they communicate.

As your children start having children or your grandchildren begin growing up, it is necessary to start changing with the times and learning new technology. Though it's tempting to rely on your tech-savvy relatives to help you with complicated technology, there comes the point where the technological barrier begins walling off your means of communicating with friends and family. 

With the tools to be a digital grandparent, you'll stay active in your social circles and maybe even impress your grandchildren with your skills.

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help

As much as it may seem like it, no one is born with computer or technological know-how. It's even more challenging to teach an old dog new tricks, but not impossible. Have your family's technology expert—one who knows how to explain gadgets—give you a thorough yet easy-to-understand class in whichever digital medium you want to master. 

There are easy ways to learn how to use these many gadgets that connect us to the rest of the world. Perhaps you can have a grandchild spend an afternoon teaching you about the computer or your smartphone. A neighbor's kid could also be a source of good information. Kids often know more than their parents about how to use these devices. You will not only learn something valuable, but you could have fun learning something new.

Practice, Practice and Practice

The best way to improve your skills with technology is by using it every day. Your life doesn't need to revolve around your computer or your smartphone, but it's important to try doing one new thing with your chosen technological item each day. Try a new filter on your phone camera as you document the days or make a post on social media—whatever you try, be sure to implement the new skills your technology mentor taught you.

Younger people have become champions in using today's tech and communicating technologically.  They are very comfortable using text messaging, social media, and other forms of digital technology. Those who are older tend to like the old ways. However, in recent years adults of all ages have become proficient in using tech. To become a master at today's tech, it requires using it. The more you use it, the more second nature it will become.

Work Towards a Digital Craft Goal

If you have a goal in mind, you'll gain a sense of direction when improving your digital skills. For example, pick a project that will improve your life at home, such as backing your photos up digitally and creating a digital photo album with them. 

Putting your photos on your computer will keep them safe from physical harm, such as basement flooding or fire. For even more protection, learn about Cloud storage from your technology mentor. Your project can vary from being relatively simple, such as updating your email service or learning how to access bills online, to learning something entirely new—anything is possible so long as you keep an open mind.

Retention is often done best when you can share what you've learned with other friends and family members. Try teaching other people in your social circles what you have learned about technology and the tips for becoming a digital grandparent that you picked up along the way. With enough time and effort, maybe you can even teach your children and grandchildren a thing or two about the digital world!

Email and Text Messages

Email is simple to use and is as close as you can to send letters in the mail. Most of your family should have access to email. Text messages are great for short messages like, "I love you," I'm thinking about you," or "I'm making your favorite cookies to send to you." It is not uncommon today for parents and children to communicate with text messages. 

Some smartphone devices will offer voice dialing and voice-to-text. You just talk and the device types. For a person with arthritis or other disability that would make it harder to use a keyboard or smartphone, the voice option makes it easier to use.

Many of those devices include cameras. You can easily take photos and "text" them to your loved ones. You can send a "selfie." which is a photo of yourself you can take with your phone.

Face Time and Other Alternatives 

For those with iPhones or iPads, you can use the Face Time feature. If you are not an iPhone owner, there are other similar options to have a video conversation with a family member or friend. Skype is another video chat option that can be used either on your phone or your computer or tablet. The ability to both see and hear your loved ones make you more connected in a word where at the moment, we are more separated than ever before. 

Social Media

Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are other ways to stay connected to friends and family. Again you can usually depend on someone younger to quickly show you how to use these sites. According to a Pew Research study, 46% of adults 65+ use Facebook. Pew says 67% of these seniors use the internet in some way. 

There are so many ways to use today's technology to stay connected with our families, not to mention shopping. More families live apart and staying connected is important. The virus crisis also is keeping families apart. You can reduce anxiety and depression and keep the closeness that most families desire by embracing today's communication options.

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