Want to engage more with your grandchildren? Get on Instagram!

By Ben Halpert, Founder Savvy Cyber Kids, an EarthLink partner

Sometimes you just have to meet folks where they are at. And, your grandchildren, where are they? Geography aside, they are at Instagram, among other social media platforms. That's the beauty of technology, your grandkids could be living down the street from you or a continent away, Instagram doesn’t care. And truth be told, your grandkids might very well be more attentive to what you have to say when you post it.

The great thing about Instagram is that it’s PUUURFECT for grandparents. Think of it as your virtual photo album, or brag book, if you will - one that allows for your own unique narration…in other words, an opportunity to share your POV, your feelings and your memories with the younger generation -- when (and where) they are listening!

So, start with the photo or image. For inspiration, check out these grandparent selfies. Just like your traditional photo album, choose an image that is interesting to look at, whether it shares an experience or a mood. Instagram is about telling stories through images. A memory from your childhood is a story waiting to be told. A picture of your daughter with her new baby might remind you of when your daughter was a baby and what you were feeling then. Honoring your grandchild’s academic or sports achievement is perfect for Instagram. Instagram can be all about introspection, especially when this dive inward opens a window into who you are in a way that your family can see and share it. Instagram encourages you to share more detail about an image with a description. Feel free to express yourself here.

Then, don't forget to close with hashtags. Using hashtags is pretty much like joining the conversation with your grandkids. They will notice. Technically you are encouraged to use more than one, say 10 -- but no more than 30. And yes, you can curate your own collection of hashtags and re-use them on each post, maybe updating a few for the specific content of the post. Here is a collections of hashtags that you could use for yourself:

  • #grandparents #family #love #happy #fun #cute #instagood #familytime #life #photooftheday #smile #kids #children #mom #dad #sister #sisters #siblings #mother #father #related #brothers #brother #sis #bro #instatags4likes #grandma #grandpa #parents #grandparentsday #summer #memories #blessed #photo #birthday #anniversary #easter #wedding #uncle #babyboy #mothersday #babygirl #auntie #bookart #fathersday #halloween #babyshower #foldingwithlove #parentstobe #gift #summer

Want to see how other grandparents are doing it? These grandparents used the hashtag #grandparent and now are representing grandparents on Instagram. A hashtag is like a filing system for social media posts. It helps you look things up and be part of a trending or common topic. Finish your social media posts with the hashtag #grandparents and your post will now be part of this worldwide filing cabinet. https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/grandparents/

Think this is sounding a bit frivolous? Think again. Here is the proof in the Instagram + Grandparent formula…This 75-year-old grandfather in South Korea seemed impossibly far from his grandchildren in the United States. Like you, he may have wondered, will they ever really know me or what will they remember about me? Chan Joe’s son recognized his father’s talent with art and saw its potential on Instagram. He encouraged his father to draw for his grandchildren and share the images on Instagram. This account, Drawings for My Grandchildren, is pretty much the gold standard of making meaningful family social media connections.

Worried you might get it all wrong and embarrass yourself or someone else. Sometimes getting it wrong is just right! Just keep in mind a little social media etiquette and you should be just fine!

  • Don't post unflattering/inappropriate photos of your grandkids;
  • Don't hijack every post and turn it into a conversation;
  • Don't use social media to guilt kids or grandkids; and
  • Don't add your grandkids' friends unless they instigate it.

There is another side benefit of getting on Instagram or other social media. It gets you involved in your grandchild’s online world . This a great conversation starter for you and your grandchildren. Ask them for help setting up your account and for Instagram tips. They will be glad to engage with you on this! Our kids need us there. Be a digital grandparent and help keep the youngest generation safe.

Ready to give it a try? Good!

___________________________________________________________________

Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for their free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics.