Smart home technology is becoming more and more popular, making it easier for people of all ages to cook or monitor their house while away from home, take care of the shopping without leaving their living room, or even video chatting with their doctor from the comfort and convenience of their bed.
The technology and internet speeds available today are also making it easier for people to connect and have meaningful moments of human connection, especially for family and friends who live far away, or who have experienced a life-changing event such as illness or death in the family that has left them feeling alone and isolated.
Southern California resident Larry has been coping with the loss of his wife, Pat, after a difficult battle with dementia. To keep his late wife’s memory alive, Larry is using social media to connect with his granddaughter Jessica over his most precious stories about his wife. Through videos about his life (past and present) that he shares with Jessica on social media, Larry and his granddaughter are learning about each other more than ever.
Like Larry’s and Jessica’s newfound digital connection, here are four ways technology can help grandparents connect with their younger family members.
1. Messaging Apps
A recent study revealed that 73% of grandparents own smartphones, which means that the power to connect is already in the palm of their hand. Messaging apps like WhatsApp or Talkatone are a great introduction to texting for grandparents.
Messaging apps make it easy to send and receive text updates, photos and videos all in one place. And, when there’s time for a longer conversation, grandparents and their grandchildren can use these apps to chat for free, as most don’t use up cell minutes.
2. Video Chat
It can be difficult to go months without seeing family or friends, especially your grandparents. Video chat makes you feel as though you’re in the same room as someone, regardless of geographical distance. Have a video conservation through apps like Skype or FaceTime from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. You can enjoy a sunset with your grandparents or share big life events such as graduations or weddings they cannot physically attend.
3. Gaming and Creativity Apps
Creative apps like Magisto, FXGuru and PhotoFunia allow you to personalize photos and videos, which can make file sharing more special and fun. Looking for some friendly competition with your grandparent? Try a gaming app like Wheel of Fortune or Minecraft. Or keep your grandparent updated with an app like Keepy, an interactive platform for sharing school projects and artwork.
And don’t forget about family tree apps like Ancestry, where you can all discover photos and stories together as you navigate your family history.
4. Social Media
Start a private Instagram account where you can post photos and videos for your family’s eyes only. Grandparents have lots to share, so encourage them to make their own Instagram handles and record their stories. This can be a unique way to learn about your grandparent’s past or to pass down family memories, post those Ancestry results, or share family recipes that may otherwise get lost over the years.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform among grandparents. Snapchat is another option to send and receive custom pictures or videos with a variety of fun filters and lenses.
How to Help Your Grandparents
While nearly three-quarters of grandparents have smartphones, only 44% identify as tech-savvy.
Teaching non-tech savvy family members how to use video chat and social media can be a bonding experience and will help pave the way for easier and more frequent communication in the future. You can also set your grandparent up with useful home features like the SURE Universal Remote, which allows them to control their TV and other devices from their smartphone. Some grandparents may not realize they can watch their cable TV content from their mobile device or schedule a DVR recording using apps like Cox Connect.
Technology doesn’t have to be in the way of making real human connections. It can be the way – especially for older adults like Larry. Learn more about Larry’s journey to using technology at www.cox.com/grandstories.