When I was a kid, I didn’t live near my grandparents. We would see each other once, maybe twice a year. Every Sunday we would all line up by the phone in the kitchen to call Texas and chat with Mamaw, Papaw, and Nana. Unfortunately, the rate of long distance phone calls back then limited us to only a minute or two to chat.
I have very fond memories of my visits and time spent with them, but they weren’t near often enough.
Fast forward now to my own kids. We are a military family and as a result don’t live anywhere near the grandparents. But even for those who technically live in the same local area, getting together is pretty tough in this fast-pace life.
The difference of course in these scenarios is the huge change in technology. My kids regularly pick up the phone and call my Mom or Mother-in-Law to tell them about their day. They can easily become a witness to soccer games, birthday parties, and everything in between through FaceTime.
An AARP study found that:
- 83% of parents, grandparents and teens consider going online to be helpful forms of communication
- 30% of grandparents, and 29% of teens say connecting online helps them better understand each other
- 25% of teens communicate with their grandparents several times each week through social media
- 70% of teen say the computer increases the quantity of their communication with family members living far away, and (67%) say it increases the quality of those communications
With that information I encourage you to dive into this technology and look at the many ways to connect with your grandkids.
If you have older kids they probably have entered the world of social media. From what I am told Facebook is no longer the place to be. Instagram is pretty popular right now. It is just an iPhone app (you can technically view photos at instagram.com), but it is really intended for use on the iPhone. It is a newsfeed of the photos posted by the friends you follow. They offer amazing filters for photos you take, but I really love scrolling through the my friends pictures. In addition to following your grandkids, it is also fun to follow brands that you love for a little daily visual inspiration.
Alright so technically you don’t need an iPhone to use Gmail, but more often than not we are checking our email on our phones. Emailing back and forth with your older grandkids can develop a special relationship for sure. But you can also use an email address as a digital time machine for your grandkids. You can view more information on how to do this over on my site The idea is you use their inbox as a keepsake box. Especially when they are young. You can write little emails and updates and just send them to their email as a keepsake for later.
Shared Photo Stream
With an iPhone you can create and join a shared Photo Stream. Imagine you and your kids/grandkids could all put pictures into one album, and that album could simultaneously be at everyone’s house. This is what the shared photo stream does for you. Basically you create an online album and anyone you invite can add to this album. For example, in my family my brother, sister, and I all live away from my parents. We have a shared photo stream which we all drop photos into regularly. We can then all look at each others pictures and even use them as a TV screen saver with Apple TV. For more information on setting this us I have a tutorial video here.
If you have younger children you know that they constantly create art! (Hopefully if you have older grandchildren they still do this.) Regardless, it is so fun to see what their minds are coming up with. Check out Artkive. A great app that allows you to store artwork. Ask for you grandkids’ artwork to be uploaded to Artkive so they can easily share it with you. Bonus is you can even create a book with all the artwork that is uploaded.
Words with friends is a popular iPhone game. It is basically Scrabble played long distance. This is a great way to stay in touch and always gives you a conversation piece. I didn’t want to include this in the list of 5 because I know it is pretty well know, but really if you haven’t used FaceTime (or Skype) they are such a great way to stay connected.
This is probably the most obvious of all the technologies. FaceTime is exclusive to Apple products. You can either talk iPhone to iPhone to Mac Computer and any combination of those. To use FaceTime you must know the other person’s phone number or the email address they have registered with FaceTime.
FaceTime is great for all ages, you can see a 8 month old crawl and watch a 18 year old graduate high school.
*Note if you have iPhone4 of lower you can only make FaceTime phone calls on the WIFI.
How about you all? Have you come up with other ways to stay in touch with your grandkids using your iPhone?
Lauren Rothlisberger blogs and consults over at GetMeGeeky. As a military wife and mom of four kids (7 and under), she loves focusing on technology and productivity and finding new ways to simplify her life (and yours). Lauren is the person that reads the tech manuals so you don’t have to! She has written a few of ebooks and has a video library all geared at making technology make sense to you, come visit!