Technology has taken over the way we communicate with most people in our lives. While texting is the most popular way for many people to keep in touch, for many senior citizens it’s like a foreign language. With a small bit of encouragement and a large dose of patience, you can help bridge the communication gap between the younger crowd and their grandparents by teaching them a few basics.
According to a Pew Internet report entitled Generations and their gadgets, 85 percent of baby boomers own a cell phone. If your tween’s grandparents have one, they probably have a fixed number of texts they can send and receive each month. Before your tween starts reaching out and texting grandma, make sure you find out what their plan allows. Sending a short, “How are you?” message once in a while helps your tween connect with her grandparents on her own time. Suggest to your tween that they use more complete words and proper grammar when texting their grandparents, so they can be easily understood. Texts are easy to respond to at a convenient time and most grandparents will feel pretty hip when they see a text in their inbox.
What grandparent wouldn’t want a little face time with their grandchild? Skype is free, easy to download and easy to explain over the phone. Once they are set up, your tween can arrange a specific time to call. Families that live far apart can share so much more -- think school projects, dance routines or team trophies -- than with just an ordinary phone call.
Instant messaging (IM in tween talk) may be easier than texting for some seniors. IM programs can run on a computer so that the full QWERTY keyboard can be used for typing messages. Since instant message conversations happen in real time, it’s best to make sure the grandparents are available before trying to IM them. Tweens can also send messages at random times just to say “thinking of you” or something nice, so that the next time grandma is on the computer she’ll see the message.
Family ties are important, especially as your children head into their teenage years. Help them stay connected.