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How to use technology to better connect with your grandkids

Whenever the grandkids come over to visit or stay, often they will want to use devices such as computers, smartphones or tablets.

In this article, we discuss some basic online safety tips for grandparents or carers to keep in mind, and also some tips for how to better connect with young ones with the help of these devices.

Devices like computers, smartphones and tablets are great ways for kids to play, learn and socialise, and a great way for you to connect with them. However, as a grandparent or carer, there are risks you should be across.

Set up devices safely

Your grandchildren have never known a world without screens. Just as you would keep them safe in the playground, it is important to keep them safe when they are online too.

To do this, ensure all safety features are activated on any devices your grandchildren are using, including home computers, smartphones and tablets. You can do this by:

  • Password-protecting all devices: Make sure a password, passcode or face / fingerprint authentication is required for anyone to access your device. This will ensure your grandchildren don’t sneak online without your permission.
  • Activate safe search features: All major search engines, be it Google, Bing or Yahoo, have “SafeSearch” options so as to exclude content inappropriate for young children. Make sure this is activated. Here’s how to do it on Google. Alternatively, you can direct them to child-friendly search engines like and
  • Add Parental Controls: Parental controls are software tools specifically aimed at limiting what children can see and do online. You can use them to block certain websites and prevent certain activities (such as making purchases online). Some of the most popular include Qustudio, Kaspersky Safe Kids and Norton Family.

Make the most of screen time together 

If you’ve set up your devices safely, you can enjoy the peace of mind that your grandchildren are unlikely to stumble across inappropriate content unexpectedly.

However, you don’t simply have to leave them to their own (excuse the pun) devices. While many of us long for the days before screens, in moderation these can be wonderful tools for learning, and becoming more involved in the online world that youngsters occupy can have a lot of worthwhile benefits.

When you explore online together, you can encourage your grandchildren to think critically rather than to just consume blindly. Take the time to watch their favourite program or play their favourite game with them. Ask them why they like it, and tell them what you think of it.

As you explore, look for content that promotes strong values such as friendship, respect, learning and creativity, and encourage explain to them why these values are important.

Teach them to ask for help

It’s also important to encourage children to come to you with any issue that makes them uncomfortable, scared or upset. Let them know they can trust you and that they won’t be in trouble for raising any concerns.

Some of the problematic situations that may arise online include (among others):

  • Online bullying
  • Discovery of content that makes them feel uncomfortable, scared or upset
  • Contact by strangers
  • They are unsure if something is real or fake
  • Someone is pressuring to do something they don’t want to do

Manage their time online

While it’s great to try to connect with children in this strange new online world, one thing we can all agree on is that limiting time online and balancing it with other offline activities is critical.

The right amount of screen time varies with factors such as age, maturity and what kind of activities they spend their time doing online. Consider your grandchild’s screen use in the context of their overall health and well-being, and ask yourself how screen time fits in with their routine.

Some great questions to ask include:

  • Are they getting enough sleep?
  • Are they getting enough exercise?
  • Is it impacting face-to-face connections with friends and family?

Look to find the right balance and implement rules, as necessary, around screen time. Be sure to discuss these with them so that they understand the boundaries and the importance of a healthy balance.

For further information about online safety, visit the Australian Government’s eSafety Commissioner website.