Connecting With Grandparents
Grandparents play a key role in setting examples for and shaping their grandchildren. From sharing family stories and valuable wisdom to teaching grandchildren how to make a family recipe, these important relatives have the potential to enhance your child’s life in a way no other individual can.
According to the American Grandparents Association, more than 40 percent of grandparents do not live near their grandkids. Fortunately, today’s technologically-driven world offers plenty of options for grandparents and grandchildren to stay in touch. Here are some of the ways North Carolina kids are staying in touch with their grandparents.
Facebook Messenger is a popular tool among today’s grandparents. Younger kids can communicate with them via a parent’s account if they aren’t old enough to have their own.
This app offers the capability to send video and voice clips, too. Plus, kids can have fun choosing one of many digital “stickers” to add on to a message.
“My daughter, Ava, and my mama video chat on Facebook Messenger,” says Jayme Chapman of Winston-Salem. “It’s very easy to figure out for those who aren’t electronically savvy, and can also be done from a computer for those kids who don’t have their own phones.”
Instagram is another way kids can share photos with grandparents. Even if the grandparents aren’t using their accounts to post pictures, it’s easy for them to follow their grandchildren’s Instagram feed.
In addition to Apple’s FaceTime app, there are a number of other platforms grandparents can use to stay virtually connected with grandkids. Skype, Google Hangouts and the Marco Polo app are all free to use on either a computer or smartphone.
Winston-Salem native Amanda Uhl, whose husband serves in the U.S. Air Force, has plenty of experience with long-distance communication between her kids and their grandparents.
“Google Hangouts is a lifesaver,” Uhl says. “We’ve gone through a lot of different video chat programs over time, but this one has probably stuck with us the longest. … We have Androids and both sets of grandparents have iPhones. It’s really nice now that (both kinds of) phones have the app so they can talk wherever and whenever.”
Jon Hicks of Concord, who swears by FaceTime for connecting with grandparents, embraces the importance of sharing videos. “We also use a Plex server to share home videos we take, and you can talk live with video,” he says. “To be able to share fun things live with the grandparents is awesome — like a giant water balloon fight!”
Charlene Passot of New Bern says Marco Polo, available via the App Store or Google Play, is her family’s grandparent communication app of choice. “My son, Kale, loves the Marco Polo app and its fun features,” she says.
Marco Polo allows face-to-face messaging for either one-on-one or group conversations, accommodates video sharing, and incorporates camera filters and fun doodles.
Talk and Text
Using the phone seems like an obvious way to stay in touch, but it’s often overlooked in today’s digital world. Whether phones are used for calling or texting, they still make for a great way to communicate with loved ones who live far away.
“The more you make phone (or video calls) routine, the more it just becomes a part of what you do instead of trying to fit it into some sort of schedule,” Uhl says.
Encouraging your kids to write letters to their grandparents may be “old school,” but it’s also a fun way for them to hone their writing skills, and allows for sending drawings and photos, which grandparents love to proudly display.
Ameia Caudle, originally from Winston-Salem, makes sure her son regularly writes his “Nana.” “He writes her letters and draws pictures for her and mails them, which promotes writing skills, as well as responsibility, because I take him to the post office and he does the rest. He gets the stamps, stamps it and mails it himself.”
Suzy Fielders is a single, working mom of a spirited 11-year-old daughter. Learn more about her at suzyfielders.wordpress.com.