Bridging the Generation Gap With Technology

You may have noticed it the last time your family sat down for a meal: the generation gap. It’s been with mankind through the ages. But in the last 100 years that gap has grown larger than perhaps any during the course of human history.

The reason? Technology. Yes, technology—that old scapegoat for the degeneration of our youth and the social disconnect between children and their elders. If you have children, chances are your last family dinner was interrupted by more than one cell phone call, text message, or video game. Chances are your childhood story about Grandpa was overlooked in favor of one of those interruptions. Chances are this frustrated you to no end.

The generation gap strikes again.

But fear not. With a little creativity, you can turn technology in your favor. Follow these easy tips, and  you can start bridging that gap today. Your children might even be begging to know more about their grandparents.

  • Create a digital photo slideshow. Most computers now come with photo management software like iPhoto. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Educate your kids about their elders by making a photo slideshow of your childhood memories with them. Don’t have a scanner? That’s OK. The smartphone in your pocket has a scanner app. Complete the slideshow with a soundtrack of your favorite song and voila—visual and audio stimulation. You’ll probably enjoy going through all of those memories, and if you’ve done a really good job and incorporated a video editing program like iMovie.
  • Sign Grandma or Grandpa up for a social media account. You may already have your own social media account. Your children almost certainly do. Bridging the generation gap has always started with communication and sharing common interests. Social media sites like Facebook and Google+ make communication and sharing easy. You’ll want to educate the grandparent on the basics of social media—this will require patience. Remember, you’re never too old to learn—and even as seniors’ bodies begin to limit their physical activity, the mental stimulation of interacting with the family any time they want can be exciting. An 88-year-old family member of mine, who mastered email, was sharp as a tack until he passed recently. Social media comes with some inherent risks, but privacy settings and proper education can limit those.

Moore’s Law states that technology doubles every two years. With the advent of widespread high-speed mobile internet like LTE, that gap is certain to continue growing. Have some fun, learn a few new tricks, and turn Moore’s Law to your advantage.

Yes, the generation gap is wider than ever—but the tools to bridge it are already here.

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