Today's technology and online tools provide a variety of ways to keep in close contact with extended family and young grandchildren. It's relatively easy to remain close and receive a virtual dose of kisses, hugs and updates, no matter how far apart you may be.
Skype is one of the most popular ways to stay in touch. It's a free and easy to download software available from www.skype.com. Once installed, you can make free voice and video calls with other Skype users anywhere in the world. It's great for sharing milestones with grandchildren, enjoying lengthy conversations with senior family members, and even playing simple games like "Peek-a-boo" and "I Spy" with the youngest of Skypers. When time zones are involved, families simply pre-arrange a convenient date and time for the call.
This easy-to-use app is similar to Skype and comes pre-installed in Apple devices (Mac computers, iPhones, iPads) - fine if the whole family uses Apple (rare!), so for most people it's easier to stick with Skype.
With more than 1.94 billion active users, Facebook is a great way to connect with extended family and share your latest photos and family news. To sign up for a free account, visit www.facebook.com. You can choose to post (write) your own news and add photos of recent activities you've enjoyed as well as being able to stay up-to-date with what's important to other members of your family by reading their posts.
You can also join private Facebook interest groups. A good place to start is with your Facebook Village Group, which has been set up for residents and their families, and you are able to invite your family and friends to join the group. It's popular with extended family as they are able to see what you're up to, but it can't be seen by anyone else on Facebook who has not been invited to join the group. If you are at Ranfurly Village search on Facebook for "Ranfurly Village”, Pacific Coast Village search for "Pacific Coast Village", or Russley Village search for "The Russley Village".
This is a popular app with teenagers and is a brilliant way to stay close to older grandchildren, without seeming too intrusive. It's picture based and you can like photos your family shares, and also post photos yourself that may be of interest to them such as photos of your pets (always popular!), holidays and other activities you enjoy. The immediacy of Instagram is what teenagers love and the fleeting interactions you will have with them, is a modern way to help keep your relationship alive.
Texting / Messenger
Text messaging has been around for a long time and it is another popular way to stay connected with teenagers. Many prefer not to talk on the phone or via email, but they will text. Messenger is just like texting but you can see when your message has been received. You can find out more at www.messenger.com. And don't forget, whether you're texting or messaging with your grandies to use lots of emoticons (commonly known as emojis), the various happy smiley and winking faces, which are all the rage amongst young folk these days. Feel free to use them liberally!
Emails remain a popular form of communication and are still a quick and easy way to communicate. With the advent of "texting" and "messaging" writing emails has become a quicker business with fewer words being used, and this is the key to staying in touch with busy families. Just a sentence or two sharing quick or quirky news will do the trick.