Their grandsons’ use of smartphones, tablets and handheld games has left retirees John and Betty Chia feeling distant from the two boys, aged nine and six.
“We never thought we’d have problems interacting with them,” says Betty, 64. “Now, their gadgets are all they are interested in. They’ve tried teaching us how to use these devices – but we just don’t get it.”
Maureen*, grandmother to Jordan*, eight, has a similar gripe. “I feel shut out at times,” says the 62-year-old cooking instructor. “When Jordan comes over, he’s so engrossed in his iPad that it’s hard to hold a conversation with him. He may say a few things but you never have his full attention.”
This technological gap could have a bad effect on the relationship between your parents and your kids.
Mala Khare, counselling psychologist at Counselling: A Map for Emotional Wellbeing has some ideas on how you can help your parents bridge the gap with your kids.
1. Read Them A Story
E-books help your little ones learn to read, while getting your parents used to handling a tablet at the same time. Mala says: “Listening to stories is still a well-loved activity for young children, and e-books will not put too much stress on your parents.”
2. Group Play
Multiplayer games on the Wii, Xbox or Playstation are fun and can deepen bonding. Ask your kids to select games that their grandparents can play with them – make sure they aren’t too fast-paced and avoid violent titles that are inappropriate for family bonding.
3. Cooking Magic
Youtube is an easy way for your parents to embrace technology without feeling overwhelmed. Your parents and kids can search for Youtube cooking videos, then make the dishes together, step-by-step. Your kids can show your parents how to pause, stop and play the videos.
4. Picture Perfect
Your parents and kids can take photos of one another using a digital camera, smartphone or tablet, and create an online family photo album. Editing the photos and designing the album together is a fun way to feel closer and exchange ideas.
5. The Bargain Hunters
Your parents can share what’s on their shopping list and ask the older grandkids to help them research online stores for the best bargains. Your folks get a chance to become more comfortable with using search engines like Google, and your kids can learn a thing or two about smart shopping.
*Names have been changed
This article was originally published in Simply Her April 2013.