The digital divide — children and their grandparents

24 05 2011

No need to hold onto your hats for this one; you probably already know this: Children aged 8 to 18 spend most of their waking hours online, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Of course, that doesn’t include when they’re in school.

During the approximately 7 ½ hours a day, they’re talking on their phones, surfing the web, texting, watching videos, listening to music, etc.

Like you, I wasn’t surprised by this. While my son and stepsons have passed that age range, I notice other young people who always seem to be constantly connected. They’re texting while they’re running on the treadmill in the gym. They’re talking on their phones while they’re walking across the street. They’re surfing the web on their smart phones while they’re standing on the corner waiting for the school bus.

 While I could be one of those “old” people who points an arthritic finger at them and says in a crotchety old person’s voice, “In my day, we didn’t have the Internet or those fancy phones,” I’m actually going to revel in young people’s mad desire to communicate because a report in the Wall Street Journal indicates that young people are using a lot of this technology to stay better connected to their grandparents. Yes, that’s right, grandparents.

According to the article, grandparents and grandchildren have a good bit in common. They have free time, disposable income, and a desire to stay in contact. More and more older people are going online


and more and more older folks are using Facebook. 

And, while children may block their parents’ access to Facebook, they’ll welcome their extended family, including their grandparents.

I’m excited about all of this. Why? Meet B, my 11-month-old granddaughter.

She lives an hour’s drive away from us, which means we usually get to see her only once a week. And yes, she’s too young to be texting or updating her status on Facebook, but it won’t be long. And I’ll be right there, texting her back and posting fun stuff on her page. And, by the time she gets old enough, imagine what new media there will be to keep us connected.

I can’t wait.



7 responses

24 05 2011

This is one reason I post so many pictures of our boys on my Facebook page. We live several hours away from both sets of grandparents and don’t get to see them in person as much as we’d like, but my in-laws enjoy seeing pictures of their activities and everyday life. Now I need to get my parents on there!

Personally, while I’m not a grandparent yet, Facebook has been helpful for keeping up with what my teenage nieces and nephews are doing. We can celebrate their accomplishments, laugh about silly things together, or even see when they post about a challenge they’re facing and initiate a conversation that helps them know they have our support. It definitely helps to bridge the distance between us!

24 05 2011

Use FB to communicate with family, friends, former students.

Followed the adventures of two favorite former work-study students as
they traveled through Europe earlier this year.

Family updates from dance recitals to life at college to summer

Keep in touch with son, and daughter and her fiancee, who live in
Colorado. I haven’t talked to my son in more than a week but I know
from his FB post that he is rafting the Yampa River in Utah and
Colorado! And, I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures from that
trip. I haven’t personally met the woman he is dating, but we have
“met” on FB, regularly trading messages and sharing photos.

I share photos and updates with my husband, who refuses to use FB but
is interested in knowing what is happening in the lives of our family
and friends.

“Chat” is great to “reach out and touch” my nieces and nephews when
they are on-line.

24 05 2011
Gina Furlano

Because of facebook I now keep in touch with Cousins in Hawaii Seattle Iowa Florida and California, I have connected with a friend from when I was 10 who lives in Buffalo NY. And I get to share pictures of my granddaughter

24 05 2011

I agree, Gina. I know more about my cousins, who are scattered hither and yon, than I ever did before Facebook. While there is a down side to social media, it does open up new opportunities for all of us to stay connected.

24 05 2011

It seems that the age kids are gaining access to new technology keeps getting lower. The other day I saw a little girl, about 6 whip out her cell phone and make a call. I often see parents hand their babies their smartphones to watch a video or play a game. They even make baby proof cases now that turn iPhones into baby toys!

When it comes to family and Facebook, my mom has access to my full profile but I hide a lot of information from my extended family such as aunts and uncles.

24 05 2011

facebook and email keep me in touch with my 2 grandchildren that live 2 hrs away my son and daughter inlaw are always posting pictures and sending flip videos

25 05 2011

Great post Pat! At a recent “girl’s night out” with my step-mother and some other relatives, she was amazed at all of the family news we all knew that she did not. “You’ve got to get on Facebook!” was the theme of the night. It’s been a valuable tool for keeping a very large family connected. Currently, we’re using it to plan a Memorial Day BBQ!

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