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Using Facebook to Keep in Touch with Your Grandchildren

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This chapter shows you the best ways to use Facebook to get closer to the youngest members of your family.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

This chapter shows:

  • → How to Engage Your Grandkids on Facebook
  • → Responding to Your Grandkids’ Posts
  • → Five Things Not to Do with Your Grandkids on Facebook

As popular as Facebook is among seniors, it’s even more popular among younger generations. This makes Facebook an ideal place to meet up with your grandkids, especially those who don’t live nearby. There’s nothing better than signing into your Facebook account and seeing a new message, photo, or video from your favorite grandchild.

How to Engage Your Grandkids on Facebook

It’s likely that your grandchildren are on Facebook. (The older ones, anyway; you have to be 13 years old to sign up.) That means that you can add your grandkids to your Facebook friends list, and see their posts in your News Feed.

Using Facebook to keep in touch with your grandkids isn’t as simple as all that, however. That’s because younger people tend to use Facebook differently than do older ones. You need to take care to nurture a comfortable relationship with your grandkids, without stepping over any boundaries they might set up. There are rules to follow.

Make Friends with Your Grandkids

The first step in using Facebook to connect with your grandkids is to add them to your friends list. It shouldn’t be too hard to find your grandchildren on Facebook and then send out the necessary friend requests. When your grandkids are on your friends list, every post they make should show up in your News Feed.

  • circle-01.jpg Facebook might suggest your grandchildren (and other family members) as friends when you first sign up or when you click the Friend Requests button on the toolbar—especially if you have their addresses in your email contacts list. If so, click the Add Friend button.

  • circle-02.jpg Alternatively, you can do a simple search for your grandkids on the Facebook site. Use the search box in the Facebook toolbar to search for people named john doe and your grandchild’s name should pop up.

Share Your Posts—Selectively

Just as you can read your grandkids’ posts on Facebook, they can also read your status updates in their News Feeds. However, your grandkids might not be interested in everything you post, especially those posts that deal with issues of interest to seniors.

The solution to posting items that might turn off your grandkids is to not send all your posts to the youngsters. You can use Facebook’s lists and privacy functions to send only certain posts your grandkids’ way—so they’ll be spared the embarrassment of having to read about your elder moments.

  • circle-01.jpg Start by creating a new Facebook friends list that contains all your grandchildren. Go to the Timeline page for your first grandchild, click the Friends button, and then click Add to Another List.

  • circle-02.jpg Click New List.

  • circle-03.jpg Enter Grandkids into the New List box and press Enter to create the list.

  • circle-04.jpg For each of your other grandchildren, go to his or her Timeline page, click the Friends button, and then click Add to Another List.

  • circle-05.jpg When the menu changes, check Grandkids.

  • circle-06.jpg Now you can configure your privacy settings so that your grandkids don’t see the bulk of your posts. Click Privacy Shortcuts on the Facebook toolbar, select Who Can See My Stuff?, and then go to the Who Can See My Future Posts? section.
  • circle-07.jpg Click the privacy button and select Custom to display the Custom Privacy dialog box.

  • circle-08.jpg Go to the Don’t Share This With section and enter Grandkids into the These People or Lists box.
  • circle-09.jpg Click the Save Changes button.

  • circle-10.jpg By default, all new posts you make are sent to all of your friends except your grandkids.

  • circle-11.jpg To send a post to your grandkids only, click the privacy button and select Grandkids.

  • circle-12.jpg To send a post to all your friends, including your grandkids, click the privacy button and select Friends.


Send a Private Message

Facebook status updates are public, but sometimes you want to send a more personal message to your grandkids. That’s where Facebook’s private messaging system comes in. You can easily send a private message to your favorite grandchild, and no one else will see it.

  • circle-01.jpg Click Messages on the Facebook toolbar to display the menu of options.
  • circle-02.jpg Click Send a New Message to display the New Message dialog box.

  • circle-03.jpg Enter the name of your grandchild into the To box.
  • circle-04.jpg Enter your message into the Write a Message box.
  • circle-05.jpg Click Send to send the private message.

Share Photos and Videos

Just as you can read each other’s status updates, Facebook also lets you share photos and videos with your grandkids.

  • circle-01.jpg Encourage your grandkids (or their parents) to post photos and videos of themselves to Facebook. This provides you a constantly updated photo album of your loved ones.

  • circle-02.jpg Make sure you post the occasional photo or video of yourself, for your grandkids to see. Don’t limit yourself to posed pictures, either; your grandkids will get a big kick out of any crazy or silly picture or video you upload.

Chat via Text and Video

If you’re on one side of the country and your grandkids are on the other, or even if you’re only a few states away, you might only see your grandkids in person one or two times a year. Now, with Facebook text and video chat you can visit with each other several times a week, if you like. It can truly bring together distant families.

  • circle-01.jpg Schedule time for a weekly video chat with each of your grandchildren. This is especially great for talking to your younger grandkids who are sure to appreciate the one-on-one time with their favorite grandpa or grandma.

  • circle-02.jpg For the teenagers in your family, Facebook’s text chat might be more up their alley. Chatting on Facebook is just like texting on a mobile phone, and you know your grandkids are down with that. Next time you’re on Facebook, check to see if your favorite grandchild is also online (she probably is) and then open a text chat and say hi. If she wants to turn it into a video chat, you always have that option.

Play Games Together

Here’s one you might not have thought of. If your grandkids are like mine, they love to play games—board games, card games, video games, you name it. Well, Facebook is chock full of social games that you can play with other Facebook users. That means all you have to do is pick a game and then invite your grandkids to play it with you, online.

Consider Using Other Social Media

Facebook used to be the cool place for kids to hang out online. Things change, however, and Facebook is less cool than it used to be—especially now that everybody’s grandparents are also signing up. (It’s a double-edged sword!) This means that some teenagers are migrating away from Facebook to other social media, so you might need to look elsewhere to connect with your grandkids online.

  • circle-01.jpg Instagram (www.instagram.com) is a photo-sharing smartphone app that’s very popular among the high school crowd. Kids use Instagram as a kind of mobile visual social network.

  • circle-02.jpg Tumblr (www.tumblr.com) is a microblogging network, where users create their own personal blogs, and post short text messages or photos there. Teens like Tumblr because they can personalize their blogs much more than they can with their Facebook Timeline pages.

  • circle-03.jpg Twitter (www.twitter.com)is a social medium that is especially popular among older teens and people in their twenties. Users post short “tweets” (140 characters or less) that are then viewed by their online “followers.” It’s more like text messaging than posting on Facebook, which makes it more suited for mobile use.

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