Intergenerational Connection On Their Terms

A man and woman laying in bed smiling for the camera.

“The essential question we must constantly ask ourselves in the quickly evolving age of digital technology is not what can I do with my phone, but what should I do with it? That answer…can be resolved only by understanding why we exist in the first place.”

~ Tony Reinke, author of 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You


Aging in Place

I Had a thought-provoking conversation this morning with “Joan” who is a grandmother. We meet by chance in the park when I’m walking my dog, she is a Ph.D., and our conversations are always stimulating. She is aware of my interest in issues of aging, so that is often the topic, and tapping into her experiences is a goldmine of ideas/concepts. Joan is living the experience of elderhood and is a skilled reporter of the experience.

Today she offered a story of her 10-year-old grandson who was just given his first phone by his parents. As a grandmother, she realizes the inherent dangers in technology for kids as well as the necessity of skills sets vital for his generation. And so often is the case with Joan, her story had an unexpected twist and one I had not contemplated.

The other day she got a text from her grandson saying “Good morning grandma, how are you?” Perhaps he was trying out some newly learned skills and given he’s 10, his network is limited to family. She was surprised and delighted, so she texted back, “I’m doing well “Kevin” how’s your morning going?” This opened up a substantive texting dialogue. Joan then shared with me the key idea of her story. Seems this kind of deeper discussion into her grandson’s feelings most likely would have never happened face-to-face. It was theTECHNOLOGY THAT FACILITATED a more lengthy-meaningful exchange. Whether he felt safer, or more comfortable with the format is not known. Maybe a cool factor?

At first, that seems counter-intuitive, however as I listened to her describe her grandson, who is not unlike many other kids, it became clear the technology is an effective way for grandparents to connect with grandchildren, and the connection is the goal. Give credit to Joan for framing the experience as a positive. She was savvy enough to recognize the ultimate endgame was to connect with Kevin in a way that was his chosen method.

It will be interesting to hear more about their adventures in communication, but it is worth mentioning that Joan lives in an accessory dwelling unit on the property where her family lives. So they can keep in frequent touch both physically and electronically.

Key Takeaways

1) We hear much about the perils of technology in the lives of young people–here is a positive example.

2) Meet younger people where they are and now that means with technology.

3) Learn new technologies, it can enrich your life.

4) Share your positive experience with others, especially seniors who can also benefit by doing the same.

5) Stay open to new experiences and ways of doing things.


GetSetUp is a newly created online learning and community platform reaching out to seniors. Lawrence Kosick is the President and Co-founder.

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