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Our Favourite Ways to Keep in Touch with Relatives using Modern Technology

In a world where families don't always live down the street and in many situations reside on different continents, keeping in touch can be frustrating and lead to the breakdown of relationships

 

Modern technology is developing at a rapid pace and there are now more platforms available to communicate than ever before. We asked the folks at Gransnet what their top tips are for keeping in touch with their grandchildren.

Staying connected with your family

Face-to-face chat

Small children in particular like to see your face when you're talking - so for anyone who has experienced trying to engage with a three year old over the phone, it's time to get online. Face-to-face online chat using Skype, FaceTime or Oovoo are an easy way of ensuring you feature in the lives of your grandchildren, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg!

Grandmanorm: "We all have iPhones and we find that FaceTime is excellent for keeping in touch, as one can wander around whilst chatting. Our youngest GC is five; our oldest 23. They are all at ease using the iPhone - even the five-year-old chats away quite happily. It is most definitely not the same as having them in the same country, but it helps."

Ginnytonic: "We have recently bought fancy Skype cameras which enable us to clearly see the whole room on full TV screens both here and in Melbourne. We can also zoom in or out and pan around. It's a practical help to keep us in touch with our rapidly changing two-year-old granddaughter, as is having regular catch up times and following the Aussies on Facebook. Thank God for technology."

Storytelling

FaceTime is a great inventionJust because you're far away, doesn't mean you don't have to be a part of your Grandchild's daily life. If the time difference isn't too great, why not share a favourite bedtime story over the phone or one of the chat platforms mentioned above? If the time difference is an issue, why not try recording yourself reading a story... If this goes down well, you could record a few!

For the less tech-savvy, you can record your own video on most smart phones, tablets and laptops these days. Then, just upload it (securely) to one of the many free video hosting sites. From Youtube to Dropbox or Vimeo, it's a great way to share a slice of your life with your loved ones, whether it's storytelling, messaging, or even the best bits of a big birthday celebration.

Joan: "For the little grandchildren, my old linguistics professor has the right idea. He buys two copies of a children's book, then reads his copy to them on Skype while they look at their own copy."

Create a photo history book

Websites like Photobox and Snapfish are great for creating easy photo gifts that you can send directly to your long-distance family members.

There's lots of choice when it comes to style, price and products - from a straightforward photobook to a jigsaw puzzle! Just upload pictures from your computer to your chosen site and follow the instructions.

Butternut: "Every year I send a calendar full of photos of us and our lives here which my daughter-in-law is saving so that the grandchildren will have a picture history book. I also send postcards to the grandchildren regularly - even though they are still young."

Social networking

Social media is a useful toolSince its inception in 2004, Facebook has been integrated so completely into our lives that it's something many people use every day, and take for granted! If you're not familiar with it yet, here's a quote that sums it up nicely:

Anonymous user: "I love Facebook as it has put me in touch with so many people from my life that I would not otherwise be able to see, i.e. old school friends who have emigrated and family who live the other side of the country. It is lovely to see how they are getting on, pictures of their children/grandchildren, comparing notes on said children/grandchildren etc."

Apps for grandparents

Developers everywhere are catching on to the fact that the over 50s tech market is growing fast. Gransnetters alone have gone tablet mad and - 'appily - developers are cottoning on!

MollyCK: "We just started using this free application called 'Moment Garden' to get real time updates on our new grandson Mark. Our son and daughter-in-law have created a 'garden' for Mark that is completely private and only available to see by invitation. We get an email every day with any new photos of Mark or an update about him. It is truly the highlight of my day.

We can also add 'moments' to Mark's garden or send comments to him or his parents. It's a wonderful application, and especially important to me because of the privacy. In this day and age I prefer not to have my personal information all over the internet for everyone to see."

Keep an eye out for new apps

Another app that our users are talking about is Touchnote, which lets you customise cards with pictures from your phone, and the cards are then sent all over the world.

Gransnetters are also working with an up and coming app called Gingersnap. Gingersnap is the shared adventure app for your children and their grandparents, which is going on general release in early 2015 and currently offering VIP previews.

The app enables grandparents and grandchildren to share fun educational adventures with each other - whenever they fancy, wherever they are. Developed in collaboration with learning officers, curators and archivists at some of our great museums and institutions, the adventures showcase fascinating stories; inventions and works; past and present. Exciting and educational - what's not to love?

An exciting opportunity

Give Gingersnap a try!

As we mentioned, Gingersnap is currently only available for VIP previews; we'd like to offer you and your children's grandparents a limited number of invitations to try it out. Simply visit their website, enter your details and our special promo code - G2G. The Gingersnap team will help you get started, and they'd love to know how you get on!

 
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