How to connect with your grandkids in the digital world

Kids are still being kids – but now it’s all online!

20 years ago, to connect with your grandkids you could build doll-houses, have tea parties, kick balls around and get down in the Lego. But these days? All kids seem to be doing is playing on devices!

The good news is that once you get through all the technology, you’ll realise that what they’re into is actually not too dissimilar to those analogue games – they’re just doing them virtually.

With insight into what your grandkids are doing on those iPads and laptops, it’s an easy step to pick up a device of your own, and share in their interests!

Here’s what your grandkids are getting up to online.

They’re using social media

Just like hanging around with the next-door-neighbour kids, only online, social sites let kids and teens chat via their devices. While lots of the bigger social sites have age restrictions – you must be over 13 to join Facebook for example – younger kids are using other sites with no restrictions. There are Whatsapp and Kik which let kids message friends – like texting, but it’s free. Tik Tok lets kids share short videos, and Instagram is all about photos! Snapchat is declining in popularity, but kids and teens are still using it – they can send photos and videos with a viewing time limit. Once the time is up, recipients can’t view them anymore.

How to get involved – find out which social sites your grandkids are using and open your own profile. They might even enjoy helping you set it up! Then you can keep in touch with your grandkids on their terms.

They’re building worlds  

Some of the most popular online games are ones that let kids build their own worlds. These are called ‘sandbox games’ – think about them as the digital version of Lego or blocks. The kids build characters and environments, and can roam around completing challenges with friends. Minecraft is still holding its position at the top of popularity charts, but Roblox and Fortnite Creative are also up there.

How to get involved – if you enjoyed building and playing with physical worlds – train sets, doll-houses, sandcastles – you’ll love sandbox games. Get your own profile and have a play. Once you’re up to speed, you’ll be able to play alongside your grandkids, or at the very least have something to talk about over dinner!

They’re going on (virtual) adventures

Those traditional video games are still there – they’re just online! Fortnite and Plants vs Zombies are extremely popular with the younger crowd, while younger teens are into League of Legends, World of Warcraft or Realm Royale.

How to get involved – While spacie parlours might never have been your thing, you might be surprised at how much strategy and planning are involved in these games. Find out what your grandkids are into, and get involved – you might get to play with them, or even unlock a new hobby of your own!

Get tech, and get involved

While the things your grandkids are doing – hanging with friends, building things and having adventures – are pretty much the same as kids have always done, the reality is that they’re now doing a lot of it online. That means that to connect with your grandkids, you’ll need to get up to speed with how the latest technology and gadgets work.

Many of these platforms are designed to be easy to use, but if you’re finding the whole thing bewildering, don’t give up! You can ask your grandkids for help, or sign up to a learning session from Noel Leeming Tech Solutions. A tech expert will meet you in-store or come to your house, and help you troubleshoot issues or upskill in any area you choose. It’s a great system that puts you back in the power seat. We sent one of the GrownUps team along last year – you can read her account here.