Are you living a distance from your grandchildren and communication is less than optimal? Do you call your teenage grandchildren and it takes them forever to call you back, if they call back all? It can be frustrating and disappointing to say the least. You remember when they were little. They would run up to you filled with glee every time you walked into the room. And now that you aren’t living close to them it makes seeing each other difficult. You wonder what they are doing. Are they happy? You miss that connection. Keeping connected with grandchildren can be a challenge, especially if you don’t live close enough so that you can see them once in a while. So, what are you to do?
Consider The Trends
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest are the main social network sites that teenagers and young adults are using today to keep in touch, communicate and share information. Many seniors use social networks as a means of capturing snippets of the lives of family and friends and staying in touch with old classmates and past co-workers. According to a Forbes report, “For Facebook, the trend was clear: User growth is fastest in the oldest cohort. Among survey takers 65 and older, 45% identified themselves as Facebook users in the new survey. That’s up from 35% a year ago.” It is clear that social networks are one of the preferred means of communication for the younger generations, while the older population is jumping on the band wagon and catching up.
With the onset of smart phones, communication has become more technologically based and from looking at the younger population you can see they are almost always attached to their phones, communicating constantly through social networking and texts.
Recognizing A Cultural Shift
I am so fortunate to have a lot of younger adults in my life that I interact with on a daily basis. They keep me young, informed and fill me with joy and laughter. There is one curiosity though. Frequently, I have shared a meal with them, only to find that when there was a pause in conversation, or when that buzz or vibration calls out to them in urgency, their phones are immediately lifted from the table where they had been safely kept within reach, and what follows is an abrupt end to conversation. It reminds me of the 1960 movie, The Time Machine, where the alarm goes off and all the young beautiful people in a trance are drawn into the open doors of the sphinx. Maybe that movie was a prediction of things to come.
During those meals, I noted that once one person broke from the face-to-face conversation into the world of technology, others quickly followed suit, until all, except myself, were face-to-phone, mesmerized by the latest post or tweet or text. I find this behavior so curious. I use to find it rude and annoying, and I guess on some level I still do, but then I began to think about cultural shifts that take place from generation to generation, be it in fashion, music, language, or communication style. And in that moment, it occurred to me that what I was observing was a cultural shift of this new generation. I didn’t want to place judgment on this shift that I was observing, so I just made a mental note of it. The question I asked myself was, did I find benefit from participating and meeting them where they live, deep in their world of technology?
The simple recognition of this cultural shift may be the beginning of a solution to the communication challenge.
One in three teens sends more than 100 text messages in one day, or 3000 texts a month.
~ Pew Research Center
According to Pew Research Center, “text messaging explodes as teens embrace it as the centerpiece of their communication strategies with friends.” The frequency with which they text has now overtaken the frequency of every other common form of interaction with their friends, including face-to-face conversation, calling on the cell phone, social network, instant message and email. Statistics say that 58% of teens contact their friends through text on a daily basis vs. 38 percent who call on the cell phone. Texting wins overall.
So, if you having trouble connecting with your grandkids, and the phone or social networks don’t work, try texting. It appears that is where they live.
What other solutions have you found that increase communication with the teenagers and young adults in your life?