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Today's Family Magazine

5 ways to make every day Grandparent's Day

Aug 21, 2016 04:45PM ● By Today's Family
By Christina Katz
One of the challenges of keeping kids and grandparents connected is bridging both the distance gap and the generation gap.  Sometimes grandparents are silver-haired and spry and full of life and other times they are winding down into the quiet of their golden years.

Older relatives often live in retirement communities, sometimes in Florida or Arizona, and have health challenges that necessitate living in a specific climate.  Aging grandparents are not usually ready or able to hop on an airplane at a moment's notice. And this means they can miss out on a lot of their grandkid's, and even their great-grandkid's, growing-up journeys.

Luckily, opportunities to stay in touch abound today.  Technology can assist grandkids and grandparents in establishing and maintaining more up-close and personal relationships in ways that were not an option when parents were children.  New software with the potential to better connect families is launched all the time.

Instead of allowing grandkids and grandparents become distanced by age and proximity, take advantage of as many online options as you can.  Don't encourage elders to frown at technology and shake their heads at kids who use it.  Persuade them to jump in and participate, too.  Here are five tried and true ways to keep the generations in closer touch with suggestions for how to use them to create loving connections.
Share Pinterest board stories
Grandparents can be terrific storytellers and compelling stories are often strengthened by the use of specific objects.  Fortunately for both grandkids and grandparents, Pinterest is full of images that can communicate era, location, and mood.  So when Grandpa creates a board called, "My Childhood On The Red River," you can bet he is going to have his grandkids' rapt attention.  Ideas for boards might include: products that were regularly purchased, toys that were played with, locations that were traveled to, and homes that were lived in.  Kids can join the fun by sharing the story of their lives in images, too.  It's a great way for both generations to learn some helpful lessons about detailed storytelling.
Post a photo a day to Instagram
Instagram is another program that is so easy to use that even a centenarian can safely post a photo each day.  And fortunately privacy settings and follower screening is built right into the platform.  Have both grandkids and grandparents post a photo a day that tells the story of their lives.  Maybe it's a shot of the cinnamon-sugar toast they always eat for breakfast.  Maybe it's an ongoing saga of the family cat or dog. No matter what they choose to post, sharing images is bound to bring the two photojournalists closer.
Create a family YouTube page
Or let your tween or teen create his or her own.  The nice thing about YouTube is that it allows you to post family videos to the Internet, so they can easily be shared with far-away family.  And if you don't want your videos viewed by the world at large, simply set them as "unlisted" when you post them.  This way only family members with direct links you send via email or messaging can access your videos.  Don't let another graduation or recital pass grandparents by.  YouTube it!
Run an Etsy shop together
Does Grandma knit more baby blankets than she can give away? Or maybe she has some antiques she is ready to part with?  Maybe she's taking an art class or writing her memoir.  If your tween or teen has a knack for design or sales, why not let them collaborate to create an Etsy shop?  Etsy makes it easy to sell products online.  Does it really matter if the entrepreneurial duo racks up a huge number of sales?  Of course not.  What matters is that they have fun creating something together and maintaining it despite busy schedules.  This might make a perfect summer or winter break project for your tween or teen.  Or get the whole family involved and develop everyone's entrepreneurial gifts.

Schedule a monthly Facetime session
One of the best ways for grandkids and grandparents to stay connected is via the video-chatting program Facetime.  Kids will love Facetime because it's convenient, instantaneous, and visual.  And grandparents like it because they can see their grandchildren growing up before their eyes even if they cannot visit them in person as often as they would like.  As an added bonus, Facetime does not cost anything beyond a Wi-Fi connection.  So let the conversations go on as long as they like.  And so what if Great Aunt Tilly always puts her thumb in front of the camera viewer?  Learning how to communicate that information diplomatically and lovingly is a great skill for kids to learn.  After all, some day, the future will be in their technologically capable hands.

Apps less appealing to grandparents
Texting - Too hard to read and too disruptive.  No thanks.
Twitter - Too public.  And what the heck is a tweet?
Snapchat - Too fast.  Why do the images disappear so quickly?
Facebook- Oy vey.  Too overwhelming and distracting.
Vine - Too annoying.  Why does the video clip keep playing over and over?

Author, journalist, and writing coach Christina Katz believes that the positive powers of technology far outweigh the downsides. She is especially grateful to Steve Jobs, Steve Wosniak, and Bill Gates for their contributions to humanity.