Calling all digital guardian angels!
BY Aaron Larsen
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard parents tell their children, especially teens, to be careful what they post online — “digital is forever” they say. And they are right! But who is telling the adults? I’m here to share with you that as a grandparent, what you choose to post online can have a significant impact, not only on the remaining years of your life, but in the lives of those you care about for many years after your gone.
As a kid in the 90’s, I grew up hand in hand with the technology that would change the world — the Internet. The world was truly at my fingertips. And so was my childhood hero, my Grandpa Grace.
Grandpa Grace was basically a living, breathing superhero to us grandkids at that time partly because he spoiled the heck out of us. More importantly, we loved Grandpa Grace because he was dedicated to nurturing a meaningful relationship with us grandkids especially from a distance. [INSERT PICTURE OF ME AND GRANDPA GRACE]
To do this, Grandpa chose to learn how to use the Internet. I eagerly awaited his emails, which usually included really cool pictures, funny jokes, and encouraging banter. When I had tough days, I’d search for them in my inbox.
I remember one time in particular during those painful middle school years when I came home completely crushed. My world as I knew it back then had been completely turned upside down from a relationship that had gone sideways, and the bullying I was experiencing afterwards. It’s difficult to admit, but all I could think about during that time was whether or not I wanted to continue living at all. If it hadn’t been for a few fun, uplifting emails that Grandpa sent, and that I read over and over again, I doubt you would be reading this today. Those messages reminded me about my positive qualities, that I was loved, and that I had many experiences to look forward to in life. There were also many people with which I wanted to share these experiences.
The world has changed since my middle school years. Technology has become ever present in our lives. We are more accessible to others around the world than ever before — to those who can lift us up, and those who seek to tear us down. Unfortunately, it’s the latter audience that is prevailing. Now the bullying doesn’t stop at school. Kids carry these hateful messages with them in their pockets, on their phones. Teen anxiety, depression and suicide rates are soaring.
After reading Grandpa’s emails, I can tell you that it is not the technology itself that is the problem. Technology in the hands of an intentional, caring adult can make a world on difference in the lives of younger generations. I know it did mine. And though a decade has passed since he moved on, I still read the emails he sent, especially on tough days. They are part of his digital legacy — and digital is forever.
Nowadays with online tools including social media, live video chat, etc., today’s grandparents have countless more opportunities to grow a meaningful relationship and rich legacy with their grandchildren.
Your grandkids are online. The question is are you online for them?
What would it look like if the positive, loving digital reminders about how much they mean to you drowned out the negative, abusive messages they may be receiving from bullies, trolls, and other online sources each day? How much more will they flourish? How much closer will your relationship grow together? What kind of legacy would bloom beyond your lifetime?
Imagine a world where caring grandparents embraced the role of being their grandkids digital guardian angels, someone who consistently looks out for them and encourages them online. Grandparents who consistently post content that reaffirms their love for their grandchildren — posts like these:
It’s Time To Grow Your Digital Legacy – The best way to accelerate the growth of your digital legacy is to spend time with someone who can show you the ropes. That’s why I am hosting an online “kickstart” training to help you start a digital legacy growth plan. This training is offered at no cost to GRAND Magazine readers. It will help you be leverage the power of social media to intentionally grow meaningful relationships and rich legacies with your loved ones. Let’s grow your legacy together. Register today at: www.grandparentsacademy.com/grow
ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
Aaron Larsen is the creator of GrandparentsAcademy.com, the world’s first and only online academy dedicated exclusively to helping grandparents grow meaningful relationships and rich legacies with their loved ones. Aaron is also the Digital Engagement Manager for Encore.org’s Gen2Gen campaign to mobilize 1 million adults to stand up and show up for and with young people.