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NS Seniors: Keeping in Touch with your Grand kids – The Ins and Outs of Online Communication

Posted Nov 08, 2016

When my grandmother sent me her first text message… I was impressed. When my grandmother sent me my first online friendship request… I was doubly impressed. And, when my grandmother sent me my first online game invite… I knew that a new line of communication was being formed.

I grew up in the age of computers. I had my first typing class in grade 4, and I was learning about the internet as the internet was learning about itself. So.. I had an advantage when the world of online communication emerged and became the norm.

For my grandparents? It was probably more challenging. I remember having to learn about left clicking and right clicking, navigating menus, typing urls, turning things on and off.. it can be a lot to digest. That being said, the internet (and computer) can be an extremely helpful tool for communication, research, entertainment and much more! Here we are going to provide some helpful tips in utilizing the internet to keep up with the young ones in your life.

Facebook

Most people now a’days use Facebook. A ‘social media’ website, used to connect people around the world using online profiles. You can post comments, send messages, photos, links and articles, play games, comment on other people’s content… it’s a great way to interact with friends! The first step is creating a profile on Facebook. (To use Facebook you need an e-mail address, so it is a good idea to start with getting yourself an e-mail address) There you can upload a picture and some light information about yourself. Send friend requests to those you wish to be in contact with, and once your request has been accepted you can share each other’s content.

I enjoy interacting with my grandparents on Facebook. We often use it as a way to catch up on-the-go. We share funny animal videos, interesting articles and make plans for future dates. My generation often uses Facebook to post about what’s happening here and now. What events do we like to go to? What music do we listen to? Where have we been taking pictures? Often times, it all ends up on our profiles. It’s a good way to keep those that you love, informally updated on everyday life.

E-Mail

Think of e-mail as mail… but online! Each person has their own unique e-mail address, which they can log on to using a host website. There are lots of options for host sites… Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Eastlink…etc. E-mails can be sent between addresses, no matter which website you choose.

I often use e-mails to send documents or photos, and to communicate with those who only use e-mail. You can create a contact list to make an online address book for your friends, you can reply to messages sent directly to you, and you can even forward interesting e-mails on to friends. E-mail is also a great way to subscribe to online newsletters, and websites of interest. If you and a young one share a similar interest, perhaps signing up for a newsletter together could be a way for you to bond over e-mail. Youth tend to check their e-mails less than their Facebook, so e-mail replies tend to be less timely.

Texting/ Cell-phones

The telephone isn’t just for phone calls anymore! Now we can send text messages, typed directly from our cell phones. Interesting stuff, hey? The truth is, most older folks that I know would rather be talking person-to-person, than texting. While I can see their point, youth of today are usually on-the-go with jam packed schedules or hanging out in places where they can’t use the phone. It can be informal at times, but it is a great way to ensure that a message gets directly to that person. Most people are inseparable from their cell phones, so there is a good chance that if they can’t answer right away… they will get back to you when they see it.

Sometimes a text is just a great way to make plans. I’ve received texts from my grandparents to meet up for lunch, or to check my mailbox. Texting can be a great tool to check in. But, if all other lines of communication are limited.. texting isn’t so bad!

Skype/ Webcam

We now have the technology to make video calls! If two computers both have webcams and microphones… we can now make video calls to each other from anywhere that there is internet. Skype is an application that is free to download on the internet. Once downloaded, you create an account and send friend requests to those you wish to call. Schedule a time to sit down and talk, and there you have it… it’s sort-of like they are in the room? Okay, maybe not but it helps when there is a lot of distance.

When I was travelling, or living away from home I would often have ‘Skype dates’ with my family members. Being able to look at each other can be reassuring, and helps you to remember faces. Conversations can be long, and are completely free of charge. The connection isn’t always the best, but sometimes it is worth it to be able to see our loved ones again.

So there you have it. Four different methods of online communication. I hope that one of these methods resonate with you, and allows you to make that first step to reach out to a loved one. They will be impressed with your efforts, and probably give you a few helpful tips themselves!