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Tips to Help Senior Sell Their Belongings

October 21, 2014

Today's kids have never known a time without computers or the Internet. According to a Pew Internet Project study from 2013, 95 percent of all children ages 12 to 17 are now online. Eight out of ten teens have a desktop or laptop computer.

So what's a grandparent to do when hosting electronics-savvy grandkids for a few hours or days? As with other activities, the keys are to set limits and look for common areas of interest.

Before they come

If you don't have a computer or video game console in your home, there's no need to get one just for your grandkids. Many will bring their own portable devices. About 47 percent of teens own Internet-accessible smartphones, and about one in four own a tablet computer.

Ask the parents if their children will be bringing their own digital devices. According to Sara Schwartz, managing editor at grandparents.com, kids under the age of two shouldn't be using digital devices with screens at all. "For kids two and older, ask their parents what kind of time limits they impose, and know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours a day."

Grandma and grandpa's house should be a special place where kids can have fun, and certain rules (like bedtime and allowable treats) are relaxed. However, screen time should come with specific ground rules. If parents don’t provide time limits, don't be afraid to set your own. The purpose of the visit should be to enjoy time with you, not to spend it alone attached to a digital device.

"My grandchildren enjoy computer games, music and movies, but when they visit, we also have lots of other wonderful activities like swimming, museums, the zoo and hiking," said Dr. John O'Neil, a resident of the SearStone continuing care retirement community in Cary, N.C.

If the kids bring a laptop or tablet, they may ask if you have Wi-Fi access. If you don't have a wireless router in your home, again, there's no need to buy one just for them. If you do have a router or live in a communal setting that provides Wi-Fi, talk with the parents about whether or not the grandkids can surf the Internet without supervision. If the grandkids bring smartphones with 3G or 4G access, they don't need a Wi-Fi hotspot in order to get Internet access.

If you allow your grandkids to surf the Internet on your computer, consider using content filters to block inappropriate websites. Popular browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox offer content filters or add-ons. Operating systems like Windows also have built-in safeguards that you can activate. Other companies offer free or paid Internet filters. This article from PC World provides some good information: www.pcworld.com/article/2042233/how-to-child-proof-the-internet.html

Participate and ask questions

Kids today mainly use their digital devices for entertainment, communication and social sharing. Rather than leaving them alone to do as they please, use the opportunity to learn more about them, their interests and their friends.

If the kids like watching videos online, make sure they are appropriate. Watch a few online videos with your grandkids and ask them about what types of videos they enjoy and why. However, be careful of the comment sections, where anonymous users occasionally post rude or profane comments.

If your grandkids like to play video games, there are plenty of free ones available for download or playable through your Internet browser. Look for age-appropriate games, especially from trusted websites like pbskids.org or www.nickjr.com. Commonsensemedia.org is a good resource for finding age-appropriate games. Some libraries offer free video games on CD ROM for checkout, and many video game stores rent them out as well. Ask parents what the kids favorite games are and see if you can borrow/rent some.

Many kids today text or instant message (IM) their friends constantly. Set rules for your home about when it is appropriate and not appropriate (e.g., meals, outings, other group activities) to chat electronically with friends. Ask your grandkids about what types of friends they have, where they live and what they like to do together.

Kids love to create and share content online. Although the popularity of Facebook seems to be waning with teens, about 77 percent of them used it in 2012. If your grandkids are on social media sites like Twitter, Vine, Instagram or others, ask them what types of topics they like to post about, whom they follow, and what other interests they have. You might even be able to suggest new people or organizations to follow on social media.

For more information and resources on hosting your grandkids, visit www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/ or www.grandparents.com, official website of the American Grandparents Association.

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