UK’s tech-savvy grandparents keep the wheels on the family bus going round and round.
The UK would shudder to a halt if all the grandparents who look after their grandchildren simultaneously downed tools. 9.2 million people in this country are lifesavers for their own children, taking either an active or essential role in the care or raising of their grandchildren. From pre-schoolers, through to teens and beyond, these grandparents are a god-send for those working mums and dads fortunate to have their own hands-on parents or in-laws living close by.
And tech-savvy grandparents are taking the tablets (as well as iPads, laptops, smart phones and PCs) to help manage busy lives, connecting to everything and loving it (mostly). As a UK web app which helps parents and grandparents find things for their children to see and do, GoMunkee undertook a qualitative survey of grandparents (aged 55-83 and 91% female) each of whom is actively involved in the care/raising of their grandchildren to find out what they do for their families and how they use technology. All respondents are signed up to GoMunkee’s newsletter.
- “My house is like Piccadilly Circus – kids and their friends in and out after school, my 18-year old grandson sleeping on the sofa after working a late shift at the supermarket. My garden is a football pitch, my kitchen a free canteen and my lounge an xBox entertainment centre. Do I feel put upon? Yes. But I wouldn’t change it – this is life.” – Selina (65)
- “I save my daughter and her husband thousands of pounds a year in childcare fees, looking after Charlie (18 months) and Ethan (3) at my house four days a week.” – Gwen (61)
- “I honestly don’t know how my son and his partner would manage if I wasn’t looking after twin toddlers in their own home. I spend my days tidying up, cleaning and receiving deliveries. I’m frazzled by the end of the day, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world. They’ll be at school soon and will grow up so fast.” – Sue (58)
- “I’ve joined the NCT and meet up and host coffee mornings, so I meet other parents and grandparents and babies. It takes me back to when my daughters were tiny.” Claudia (59)
- It’s really hard to find babysitters. It’s expensive and someone has to drive them home afterwards. I babysit once or twice a week and save my son a fortune. After some fun with the kids I can binge-watch Netflix. – Pete (51)
- “We live 200 miles away from our grandchildren and rarely see the family. We’re adventurous, so we tag along on the family summer holiday. On hand to help amuse the kids, contribute towards accommodation costs, babysit, cook and pick up from the pub. And we get to spend quality time with our grandchildren.” – Mark and Helen (60-somethings)
Analytics of GoMunkee’s blog (www.gomunkee.com) revealed the following about the digital habit of grandparents:
- Of the smartphone using grandparents, 42% had iPhones, and 29% Samsung devices. 2% owned a non-smart phone. 1% of those polled didn’t have use of a mobile phone.
- 62% of polled grandparents caring for pre-schoolers regularly use YouTube as a means of entertainment for their grandchildren.
More quotes from grandparents:
“The fastest way to get the attention of my teenage grandsons is to turn OFF the Wi-Fi. Sometimes I disconnect it altogether and hide the router.”
“Pinterest is a good place to get ideas of things to make and games to play with the children.”
“I took my first selfie with my grandson, but got my thumb in the way so his face was hidden. Stupid phone.”
“It’s great to interact with other grandparents and join in with discussions and forums, sharing opinions and experiences on networking sites. However, I rarely give or take advice on grandparenting itself. When you get to my age, having brought up four children and having five grandchildren, there’s not that much anyone can tell me.”
“I can’t imagine life without Google. But it does worry me that children bypass good old advice and experience from Nan and look it up on Google as the font of all knowledge. Technology is good, but it’s impersonal and it means we don’t interact as well as we should.”
“I communicate with my grandchildren on Instagram, by email and text (with emojis). But I won’t allow the use of any digital devices at my house. We had ten children over in the summer and they sat around indoors in silence, gazing at screens, wasting their childhoods. Complete ban at my house.”
“I’m staggered at the dexterity of my 3-year old granddaughter who can navigate my iPad at top speed. Her reading is excellent and I think all this technology has helped. But they don’t seem to like books as much as my older grandchildren did, which is sad.”
GoMunkee interviewed 93 grandparents from Folkestone, Ashford and Canterbury in Kent between 15 and 30 June. The research is unscientific and was informally conducted, simply to obtain a snapshot of digital and family perspectives amongst grandparents involved in childcare.
GoMunkee is launching in the autumn. Sign up now to ensure you never miss a thing, and get ready to discover new and exciting things to do with your kids or grandchildren – whatever their ages.