Social media can be a great way for families to keep in touch, no matter where they live or what their ages. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat allow people to easily share photos and updates with followers. Don’t believe the myth that seniors aren’t tech savvy. Older adults are finding social media sites, especially Facebook, to be convenient and user-friendly.
In addition to connecting with their own friends and neighbors, grandparents are using social media for a variety of reasons, including to stay in touch with their adult children and grandchildren. Pew Research Center says that 69% of adults ages 50–64 and 40% of adults 65+ regularly use some form of social media.
If you haven’t yet become a digital grandparent, we have a few tips for you to review before getting started. And it starts with being mindful not to embarrass the youngest members of your family.
Tips for Engaging With Your Grandchildren on Social Media
- Don’t embarrass them: When a friend request pops up from an older loved one, many kids may fear that their parent or grandparent will do or say something online to embarrass them. While you might have a favorite baby photo of a child or grandchild displayed on your wall, it’s generally not a good idea to post it online. And don’t tag them in posts, either. Our kids and grandkids can be just as self-conscious online as they are offline. Think through anything you’d like to post about them on social media. When in doubt, don’t do it.
- Limit the number of comments: When you see the younger generation of your family interacting with friends online, it can make you feel more connected to their daily lives—especially during their teen years, when kids are known for being particularly uncommunicative. You might be tempted to comment on all their posts. Resist that temptation. A simple thumbs up on a post might be better.
- Share your own posts: Instead of trying to connect by commenting on the younger generation’s posts, create your own. This will give your grandkids and other younger friends a chance to interact with you in their own way. For security reasons, however, remember not to post photos while you are on vacation or away from home. Wait to create those posts until you are back.
- Use the platform’s privacy settings: To protect yourself from potential safety risks, it’s important to turn your privacy settings on. Don’t leave your page public. That will limit who can see and comment on your posts, tag you and send you direct messages. Check your settings again every few months in case the platform makes any changes to how they’re controlled.
- Don’t include identifying information: If you do get permission from loved ones to share photos of younger family members on social media, such as after a school play or sporting event, be careful not to include any identifying information. Don’t add their names or the names of the schools they attend. Also, skip tagging the kids as that will usually publish their full name.
- Set strong passwords: Have you noticed how some older adults seem to have their social media accounts hacked more than others? It’s usually because they have weak passwords. Try to avoid being hacked by establishing strong passwords. Experts say you shouldn’t use passwords that contain personal information, such as your pet’s name or your grandchild’s birthday. Instead, create a password that combines upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and characters. This guide to setting strong passwords from the National Council on Aging has more information you’ll likely find helpful.
Explore Independent Living at ASC
If you are looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle that allows you more freedom to travel and enjoy time with the grandkids, we have a solution. ASC has a variety of independent living options, ranging from apartments to garden homes. Call a community near you to learn more or set up a private tour!