Digital Grandparenting


Skype. FaceTime. Facebook Messenger. Zoom.

When it comes to video chatting, most grandparents, I would argue, fall into two camps: those who love it and those who don’t. Those who love it, I’d bet, are the ones who use it to help bridge the distance between themselves and far-flung family. Those who don’t are likely the ones who live close to their grandchildren and who can maintain a close relationship the old-fashioned way, face-to-face.

If you are like 38 per cent of grandparents surveyed for a new study by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), you use video chat to communicate and stay in touch with your grandkids.

“Forty-five per cent of us sometimes or often stay in touch by text,” writes Paula Span in The New York Times. “A third use email and 27 per cent use Facebook. We are becoming digital grandparents.”

And that’s a good thing, she maintains.

Video chatting serves a purpose, according to Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “I’m bullish on video chatting,” Christakis said in The New York Times. “It can enhance bonding and recognition.”

Unlike watching TV and using other screens, Christakis says video chatting “is inherently interactive and doesn’t involve the same sped-up pace, overstimulation or passivity as, say, watching cartoons.” And unlike a phone call, it enriches conversation when our grandchildren are able to see our facial expressions—and us, theirs.

“Facial expressions are incredibly important,” he adds. “It’s why we use emojis.”

It goes without saying that video chatting is no substitution for seeing our grandchildren face-to-face, and being able to reach out and give them a hug or a kiss. But it’ll do in a pinch. And a squeeze.

No matter how you stay connected, we hope this issue of Island Grandparent helps you enjoy your time with your grandchildren. You’ll find articles on everything from the importance of being your grandchild’s ally, whether or not praise can be detrimental, and beach exploration, to a grandparent’s expectations, summer treats, and 7 things to do on the Island with the grandkids.

Just like the time you spend with your grandchildren, we hope you enjoy every minute—and every page—of Island Grandparent.