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Connecting with grandchildren in today’s tech world… T oday’s grandparents might find that it’s harder to connect with their grandkids. With the rise of technology, grandchildren would rather spend their time staring at the screens of their phones, iPads, and computers than spend quality time with their family. Although it may seem counterintuitive, if you want to get more bonding time with your grandkids you might want to embrace technology the way they do. Here’s a little bit on how and why: A Grandparent’s Importance Grandparents have been around a while and have accrued a lot of life experience along the way. They know the things that matter in life, as well as the things that don’t. Conversely, children, especially younger ones, think everything is hyper- important. Their constant exposure to social media and other online platforms means that they are more likely to fall prey to the vitriol lurking everywhere on the internet. To a child, a nasty comment from someone online may feel like the end of the world, and if they get too many of them it can seriously harm their self-esteem. Grandparents can use their broader worldview to explain that a mean comment from a stranger, while hurtful, doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. You can use this situation to explain that anonymity does not mean it’s okay to say mean things to others and that they should be nice and civil, even if no one knows them online. After all, if you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face, then don’t say it online. In general, this new generation of kids receives too much peer socialization through texting and computers and not enough one-on-one time with mature adults. Children develop higher self- esteem and better emotional and social skills, including the ability to withstand peer pressure, if they have a caring adult they can rely on. Your real life presence in your grandchildren’s lives will help keep them in the real world. With your help, they’ll develop a better sense of who they are, where they come from, and what kind of people they want to be. If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em So if too much screen time is the problem, why should you learn to use digital media too? For starters, keeping up with technology means you are better able to stay in touch with your family and understand the world they face. Many grandparents live hundreds of miles away from their grandkids. By emailing, texting, Skypeing, or maybe even Snapchatting (for the extra hip grandparent) with your grandkids, you are able to keep a regular dialogue with them and be more present in their day-to-day lives. Even if you don’t live far away from your grandchildren, they are more likely to communicate with you through online and social media than anything else, which means they are more likely to open up to you if something is troubling them. Teenagers and school age kids pick up on technology effortlessly and they are often eager to show off the skills they’ve learned. Zero in on a few things you would like to learn how to do, such as downloading music or maybe learning a game your grandchild loves, and ask them to teach you. As they explain how the programs work, your grandkids will be honing their knowledge as well as developing a greater sense of confidence in themselves. They will feel like they have an important role to play in the family. Even if you don’t grasp things completely, the time you share together can be GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 enjoyable and your willingness to learn their technology will make you the “cool” grandparent. Shared Sharing Your willingness to understand the world your grandchildren are growing up in means they are more willing to learn about the one you grew up in. Introduce them to games you used to play as a kid or to your favorite card games. Show them how you used to listen to music before the age of iPods or show them your favorite old movies. In a world that’s become instantaneous, there’s still something thrilling about getting a letter or care package in the mail. Whether you live miles away or just down the street from your grandkids, set up a pen pal correspondence and send them a funny letter. It’s especially great practice for kids who are learning how to write and they’ll have a great time waiting for the next letter to arrive. By sharing the interests, skills, and hobbies of your youth, or ones you still have today, your grandkids learn new activities and ideas that help them gain a better sense of their place within history. They may find that they have a new favorite game, movie, or genre of music that they’ll want to share with their friends. Article Brought To You By: 855 Moro Drive, Gilroy • .gokids.org gmhtoday.com 59