When it comes to keeping in touch with grandkids, grandparents are branching out. Across the country, they are taking advantage of options like video chatting, text messaging and social media to stay connected to their grandchildren in more ways than ever before, according to AARP's new “Grandparents Today” survey.
Even though the survey found that phone calls are still the most popular form of family communication, for many, other technology offers ways to keep in touch when face-to-face visits aren't an option. The survey found that nearly one-third of the 2,654 respondents age 38 and older live 50 miles or more from their nearest grandchild, and more than half of grandparents have at least one grandkid who lives more than 200 miles way .
That's the situation for Sheryl Stone, 68, of Harwich Port, Mass. She relies on video chatting to stay in touch with her three grandchildren, all of whom are 5 or younger. The closest lives in Tennessee, the other two in California.
Stone says video chatting is “the next best thing” to being with her grandkids, even though it requires planning to schedule calls and take the time differences into account. “It's not always perfect,” she says, “but it certainly beats talking on the phone, especially at those ages.”
According to the survey, 24 percent of grandparents say they use video chat to communicate at least every couple of weeks. That's slightly less than the number of those who regularly text (28 percent of those surveyed), but more than those who rely on Facebook (18 percent).
But with the number of choices out there, staying tech savvy can be a challenge. The survey showed that more grandparents like the idea of using video chatting, texting and social media to keep in touch than actually do so. In all, 39 percent of grandmas and 36 percent of grandpas say that keeping up with technology is difficult.