When I was a little kid, we visited my grandmother several times a week. I always enjoyed our afternoons at her house – playing dominos on her porch, baking sugar cookies, and watching soap operas on her black and white TV.
I was fortunate because my grandmother lived close by, so we could see each other in person often. Many grandparents do not live near their grandchildren, so it’s hard to keep connections with grandkids. According to a 2019 study conducted by AARP, nearly one-third of the 2,654 respondents age 38 and older live 50 miles or more from their nearest grandchild, and more than half of grandparents have at least one grandkid who lives more than 200 miles away.
The pandemic made the physical distance even more of a struggle. A March 2021 survey of grandparents fielded by CivicScience for T-Mobile found that one-third of grandparents had not seen their grandchildren in the past six plus months.
Luckily, technology is available to help grandparents connect to their grandchildren and forge strong bonds even when they cannot physically be together. Video-chatting and Facetime make it possible to see each other when you can’t be together to even play games like my grandmother and I did.
Before the pandemic, many grandparents weren’t familiar with video chatting, preferring to connect with grandchildren using phone calls or text messages. But the pandemic propelled many grandparents who were once reluctant to try video-chatting to give it a try.
The T-Mobile study also found, “As of 2019, about half had never used video chat, but by 2020, 70% have with 1 in 3 using video chat weekly.” Of the grandparents surveyed, 45% used video chats more now than before the pandemic.
Research conducted in 2021 by AARP found that 44% of older adults viewed technology more positively as a way to stay connected than they did before COVID-19.
But that still doesn’t mean they feel totally technologically savvy. The 2019 AARP survey found 39% of grandmothers and 36% of grandfathers admitted they found keeping up with technology difficult. More respondents liked the idea of using video chatting, social media, and texting to stay in touch with their grandkids than actually used these forms of communication.
If you watched the Oprah interview with Meghan and Harry, you heard Harry discuss how even the (late) King and Queen of England relied on video chat to stay in touch with their great-grandson, Archie. Harry told a story about how his grandfather had some trouble using technology and that instead of pressing the disconnect button at the end of a call, he would close the computer.
Wireless providers know that older adults want to stay connected and get great value. In particular, T-Mobile provides discounted plans built specifically for 55+ customers nationwide – not just for those living in Florida, like some other wireless companies.
While older adults are more interested in using technology to stay connected, some are prohibited by the price or lack of availability. The 2021 AARP report found that 15% of adults 50+ do not have access to any type of internet, and 60% say the cost of high-speed internet is problematic.
T-Mobile offers wireless plans specifically for adults 55 plus that offer great features such as unlimited text, talk, and data and a guarantee that the monthly rate will stay the same each month. Plans even include Netflix, so you not only get to talk to your loved ones but you can also catch up on Bridgerton before the 2nd season starts. You can find more info here.
Being able to use technology safely is a prime concern to older adults. One-third of respondents to the 2021 AARP self-reported that privacy concerns acted as a barrier to using technology, and 83% lacked confidence that what they do online remains private.
These concerns are warranted. In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission got over 2 million reports about fraud, with people reporting that they had lost close to 3 billion dollars due to scammers. These scammers pretend to be government officials, representatives from known businesses, and even forgotten friends to get people to send them money.
Wireless phones are the most prevalent way scammers connect with people – reaching out with phone calls or text messages. Scams related to the pandemic were widespread, and many of these scammers specifically targeted older adults. To help keep their customers safe, T-Mobile includes Scam Shield with its consumer plans.
Hopefully, grandparents and their grandchildren will be able to replace virtual hugs with real-life ones very soon. With COVID-19 cases on the decline throughout the U.S. and most states lifting restrictions, many people are getting ready to take those long overdue trips to see loved ones.
Of the 550 grandparents in the T-Mobile study, 68% planned to travel in 2021 and 43% planned to travel to visit their children or grandchildren or go on vacation with them.
Having reliable wireless service is crucial when you are traveling. T-Mobile provides customers with the largest and fastest 5G network. So whether you are streaming movies in your living room or driving cross-country to finally see your grandkids, T-Mobile is making sure customers have the wireless service they need to stay connected.