I have recently read that almost half of all grandparents live more than 200 miles away from their grandkids. And in our case we live whole countries away from our children's grandparents. The world may seem smaller today because of technology and instant messaging, but that same world can seem mighty big when you are homesick to see your grandparents, and they're just too far away.
8 ways to connect with grandchildren or other out-of-town family
Skype can open up whole new worlds for grandparents. You don't have to have webcams for this, although if you do it opens up the possibility of video chat and actually seeing them as you talk. All you need are two computers with high-speed internet connections. In fact, you can even do Skype with some phones that have internet access, too. Camera phones allow for video chat, and if you have an iPhone you just need to install the Facetime ap.
2. Google Video Hangouts
Google Video Hangouts are a lot like Skype. You can chat from your desktop or laptop computer, and it has video options as long as you have the camera capabilities. Also like Skype, you simply download the ap from the internet. If you have a Google+ account or gmail start there, and search for the video hangout option.
Our little ones love “talking” to their grandparents on the computer video, and the grandparents love being able to “see” them, even when they can't hold them.
3. Social Networking
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social networks provide a convenient platform for out-of-town grandparents to keep up with their grandkids. This approach may be particularly helpful with grandchildren of pre-teen or teen age. Learning how to communicate with them on their preferred network can greatly enhance your communication and relationship. If you're concerned about privacy and photos, you can create a family group on Facebook and set the security to private, so only those in the group can see and access what is posted there.
4. Online Photo Albums
The internet offers lots of options for storing your photos. You can then share the password with the grandparents, and they can log in any time to see the latest pictures of their grandkids. You can also share a dropbox with them and Grandpa and Grandma can download to their computer the ones they want to keep.
5. Telephone Calls
The telephone may be considered old-fashioned in this day and age, but it's a perfectly legitimate and, for many grandparents, comfortable means of communication. Try scheduling regular phone calls, maybe once a week, to keep in touch. Don't know what to talk about? Grandparents can read selections of stories over the phone to young grandchildren, and older grandkids like to hear stories about when their parents were kids!
7. Online Chat/Instant Messaging
Most email platforms and phones offer instant messaging and chat. Again, all you need is a computer or modern cell phone with internet access, and maybe a texting dictionary.
It's easy to forget one of the simplest types of technology for staying in touch. Email can accommodate pictures and videos that you can include with the message, too.
Grandparents are also a willing audience for writing and art assignments. Most would love to read their grandchildren's stories and essays or see photos of their most recent art projects.
Need more ideas? Check out our book: Loving You Long Distance