Grandparents just want to be helpful during these challenging times. But what happens when grandparents live in another city? Or when concerns about COVID prevent meeting in person?
How can technology help?
This 2nd panel in the Lifelines for a Lifetime series, presented by JCC Chicago, JCFS Chicago and the Grandparent Grandchild Connection program, covered tactics and ideas for using technology to stay connected, diminish feelings of isolation, and provide mutual support across the generations of the family. Beyond connection how can you magnify your relationship—with Zoom family meetings, social media, long-distance game playing, cloud collaboration and more.
The panel assumed that in person is better and that it aches not to be together in person with grandchildren.. We’re starting with the assumption that it’s not possible now. In the spirit of mindfulness and living in the present, the panel focused on how to make it make it meaningful to connect via technology: From overcoming anxiety about learning new technology, what works best for children at different ages, and ideas for tech solutions you can use now.
At the end of this panel discussion, you will…
- Have at least three tactics to diminish anxiety around technology
- Know at least five ideas to connect with grandchildren and your family using technology
- Understand how grandchildren at different ages engage with technology
- Create your own action plan moving forward
Watch the Replay Now (and scroll to the bottom for links to the resources shared by the panelists)
Meet the Panelists (and scroll to the bottom for contact info and resource list)
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Sarah earned her doctorate in Media, Technology, and Society at Northwestern University, working in the Center on Media and Human Development. Before starting at Northwestern, Sarah spent two years (and two very snowy winters) in Somerville, Massachusetts earning a Master of Arts in Child Study and Human Development from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. Before that, she completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with minors in Family, Youth, & Community Sciences and Mass Communication at the University of Florida (Go Gators!). Her research interests focus on the benefits of prosocial and educational media for young children, particularly in early childhood education.
Rabbi Jay Weinstein
Director, G2:Global Intergenerational Initiative
The G2: Global Inter-generational Initiative is an Innovative Jewish Experience for Grandparents and their Grandchildren. G2 provides a platform for a grandparent to engage with their pre-teen grandchild (5th-6th grade) as a “zug” (pair) to explore, share, and experience the pre-teens’ relationship to their family, local community, Israel, and the Jewish people. Additionally, it will provide grandparents with a platform to share their own Jewish experiences and values, thereby passing down their Jewish legacy to their grandchildren and becoming change agents on a local and global level. In the past this culminated in trips to Israel together. Rabbi Jay has reinvented the program to deliver the experience virtually.
Rabbi Jay recently made Aliyah to Israel together with his wife Sharon and four children. Prior to making Aliyah, he served as the Rabbi of the Young Israel of East Brunswick for six years. Jay, a native of Miami Beach, FL, holds a B.A. in Accounting from Sy Syms School of Business, a Masters Degree in Special Education from Columbia University and Rabbinical Ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.
Barbara Maldonado, MS IMC (she/her)
Director of Customer Success, PrizeLogic
Instructor-Digital Marketing, General Assembly
Barbara is a 21-year agency veteran with experience across experiential, digital, and social media. She has managed over 300 team members in her career ranging from dancers, brand ambassadors to account team members, and social media strategists. Barbara is the Director of Customer Success at PrizeLogic, an incentivized engagement digital marketing agency as well as an evening instructor at General Assembly teaching adult learners digital marketing skills to help them in their upskilling and reskilling journeys. She is currently working on her second master’s degree at The Johns Hopkins University focusing on the study of Organizational Leadership. In her free time, she mentors emerging leaders and will be soon joining the Advisory Board of the Chicago Chapter of Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit focused on addressing food insecurity experienced by school-aged children and their families.
Lisa Ehrlich-Menard, M.Ed
Coordinator, Outreach and Community Education
JCFS Response for Teens
Lisa has a BA in both Theatre and History with a focus on gender and race, and a Master’s in Education from the University of Michigan. She has joined the Response for Teens after cultivating her expertise in curriculum development and youth advocacy over 13 years as a high school teacher in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Lisa developed curricula and taught the subjects of history, English, drama, ethnic studies, and gender studies. he principles of identity, inclusion, equity, and social justice guide her work with both youth and adults and she imparts those values throughout her teaching in the areas of anti-bias, gender and sexuality education, and advocacy and activism.
She has facilitated workshops for teachers, administrators, students, and parents around sexual health, safe/ inclusive spaces, anti-bias, healthy relationships, media literacy and gender, and consent. Lisa believes in supporting youth as they work to increase their capacity to find agency and make an impact on issues that they care about.
Deanna Shoss, CEO
Intercultural Talk, Inc.
Tech Columnist, Grand Magazine
Deanna helps non-digital natives (aka didn’t grow up with technology) promote their businesses or life projects with digital, intercultural and real-life marketing, with strategy and know-how to adapt to new communication technologies. She takes an intergenerational approach that combines online communication platforms like websites/blogs, social media, email and video with partnership and community building, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion best practices and events/promotions IRL (in real-life). Previously Deanna enjoyed 11 years in City Government (she personally got the dinosaur at O’Hare International Airport through security), being past President of the League of Chicago Theatres, leading Public Relations for McDonald’s Owner/Operators of Eastern New England and running marketing for Jewish Child & Family Services and JVS Chicago. Deanna writes for the National Diversity Council and is the Tech Columnist for Grand Magazine. She speaks Portuguese and is a certified Body Pump instructor.
Lifelines for a Lifetime: How Can Technology Help? Resources
If you have a question that’s not answered here, please contact us.
Master’s Degree Candidate, The Johns Hopkins University Organizational Leadership Program
Associate Board Member, Blessings in a Backpack Chicago Chapter
Brand Advocate, EvolveHer – a women’s networking and creative collaborative
Duo for FaceTime (Allows both iPhone and SmartPhone/Android to communicate by FaceTime)
Family Shared Experiences
The MET children’s virtual programming (membership required)
Animal Sanctuaries on Instagram (a few)
Director, G2: Global Intergenerational Initiative
Manager of Resource Development and Strategy Partnership Unit
45 King George Street, Jerusalem 9100002
- 972 2 620 2650 M. 972 58 691 4511
Any grandparents with grandchildren 5th-7th grade who would like to join next year’s cohort of G2 (beginning in January) should be in touch with Abby Ashkenazi (email@example.com). Here’s a short video about the program:
Other websites to check out:
Lisa Ehrlich, Med ( She/Her/Hers)
Manager, Outreach and Community Education
P 773.516.5506 F 847.676.0574
3033 W. Touhy Ave., Chicago, IL 60645
Follow us on Twitter @ResponseTeens
Follow us on Instagram @response_for_teens
855.ASK.JCFS | ResponseCenter.org
House Party can be used on a phone, ipad or computer
Bingo Maker allows you to make a bingo card
Netflix Watch Parties will help you set up a watch party for Disney, Hulu, Netflix, and HBO. It is better than trying to turn the movie on at the same time because it is synced and will pause for everyone watching when one person needs to get up (for the bathroom, perhaps). It opens a group chat function so you can chat during the film. My suggestion, though, is to also have at least one device that you can facetime or zoom on. That way, you can talk rather than chat.
Tips for communicating with grandchildren using technology:
- Schedule time. Kids are on screens all day for school. Make sure that they have been outside over the weekend, so they are ready to be with you!
- Let your grandkids teach you how to use devices.
- Let your grandkids take the lead in how to communicate.
- If a kid wants to make funny faces using filters, but not talk, play along!
- Or, if a kid wants to take you through the house to show you something, but the zoom movement is making you motion sick, close your eyes and ask them to tell you when the wild ride is over!
- If a teen doesn’t want to be on video, send memes back and forth. Ask them what they have been into lately. My daughter loves anime, my mom doesn’t understand it at all, but she lets her explain the plot to her and asks questions.
- Get the same book and read together.
- Think about the fun things you do together and make is zoom or facetime friendly:
- Art project? Baking project? Send materials and do it together.
- Karaoke over zoom.
- Fashion shows (we create themes like Project Runway). Grandparents can participate or judge!
- Plan a scavenger hunt that has the kids finding meaningful things to them.
- Look up a list of different questions to ask other than, “What’s new.” Nothing is new.
- Overall, remember that talking on the phone is difficult for a lot of young people. If they have stopped communicating over zoom, but they used to, try to find another way in through activity.
Sarah Pila, PhD (she/her)
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Medical Social Sciences
Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
625 N. Michigan, Fl 27
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Screen time recommendations. Infographic below, or visit the AAP Media and Children Communication Toolkit.
Resources from TDS, on Using Technology to Connect with Grandparents (especially like the last paragraph about importance of traditional telephone call).