How to bond with your grandchildren using technology

August 19, 2017

“She thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread!”

The author (far left) and her family use FaceTime and a shared photo album to stay connected, despite living in five different states. She’s pictured with her siblings and grandparents.

Those were my grandfather’s exact words when I asked him how my grandmother (who we’ve always called “Granny”) was enjoying her new tablet.

To be honest, I was surprised! My grandparents have never been tech-forward. As a child, I remember them purchasing a computer only to find it frustrating and unnecessary. A few weeks later, they had gifted it to my family. Then, my Granny tried out a special machine that sent and received email only. She enjoyed sending notes to friends and family, but that too fell by the wayside after a few months. That was probably 10 years ago.

So, when my brother first suggested purchasing them an iPad, I was skeptical. Sure, it would help us to stay better connected through video calls or shared photo albums. But, would my grandparents be able to easily navigate a touchscreen tablet?

The short answer: yes!

I soon discovered that tablets are incredibly easy to organize and display applications, or “apps” on a homescreen. They are larger than smartphones, and therefore easier to see and navigate.

For my grandparents, we decided to keep it simple: they have FaceTime, which is a video and audio calling service, and the Photos app on their homescreen. That’s it!

In Photos, we have one “shared” album between my mom, aunt, and three siblings (all who live across the country). Because we all have smartphones, we are all able to access the album and add our own photos and videos.

Nearly every day, there are new photos of my baby nephews, vacation snapshots, and other daily updates from our lives. Just recently, my grandparents were able to “tour” my sister’s new house in Las Vegas. In real-time, they were able to see every room of her new house and look at renovations. Without their tablet and FaceTime, they would never have had the opportunity to see it.

“I feel so much more connected to you,” my Granny says. “It’s nice to be able to see what’s happening in your lives. We don’t have to wait until your next visit home for new photos. Your telephone calls are wonderful, but now every morning, I’ll turn on the iPad and I look at everybody! I think it’s great. I like pictures.”

While for my grandparents, we only use FaceTime and a shared photo album to stay in touch, there are a number of apps for tablets that you could use to stay connected with your grandchildren. Here are some popular apps you can use to connect with your families:

Online Games:

There are a number of online games and phone apps that make playing games with your grandchildren a possibility, whether they are nearby or far away. Some popular options include “Minecraft,” “Draw Something,” “Words with Friends,” or Lego games. Or, simply ask your grandchild what their favorite game or app is already and download it to start playing! You can find applications by searching in an application store such as iTunes, Google Play, or by looking online.

Social Media:

Your grandchildren are likely using social media. In fact, they’re likely using multiple platforms. While they might seem complicated to you, to your grandkid each application has a different function: sharing stories, videos, photography, silly selfies (a photograph that one has taken of oneself), etc. Here are some popular social media applications:

  • Facebook: Facebook is a website that allows users to make profiles to connect with friends online. Users can share pictures, videos, articles, as well as their own thoughts and opinions. You might consider making a profile to connect with your grandchild, or even join a Facebook private group for all of your family members to join.
  • Instagram: Instagram is a photo-sharing app that lets you apply effects and captions to your photos. It is a curated online album.
  • Snapchat: Snapchat is very popular with young people today. It is a messaging app where users can send “Snaps,” which are photos or videos. These snaps disappear after they’re viewed by the recipient. Teens also enjoy using the app because it comes with fun filters, like animal faces or frames, for the images.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest is a visual bookmarking tool that helps you discover and save ideas for projects, parties, recipes, and more. If your grandchild enjoys do it yourself (DIY) crafts or baking, Pinterest is a great place to go for creative inspiration.

If you’re unsure of how to use any of these social media apps, ask your grandchild to give you a quick tutorial. Personally, I’ve especially enjoyed introducing my grandparents to “selfies” and have gotten a few fun photos with them! Your local library might also have classes. At Iona, we offer as-needed basic computer training at our Active Wellness Program at St. Alban’s.


Goodreads is for book lovers. It helps you pick what to read next based on titles or genres you’ve enjoyed in the past. You can see what your friends are reading, and read reviews and ratings. You can also join a discussion group or start a book club.

Music apps:

Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora are some of the most popular music apps. You can listen to old favorites, find new artists, and build playlists. If your grandchild is a music-buff, connect with them by sharing your top playlists.

These are just a sampling of applications you can use to connect with your grandchildren. Have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

By Rosie Aquila

Rosie Aquila is Iona’s Communications and Marketing Manager. A graduate of Kenyon College, Rosie joined Iona’s team in 2014. 

One thought on “How to bond with your grandchildren using technology”

  1. This was great information to keep in touch with my grandson and children. Thanks for the tips. I am not real good with iPad. Hope to figure it out soon.

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