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6322274021_cb0b1b2904_mGrandchildren are wonderful, but few of us get to see them as often as we’d like, especially when long distances separate us or they enter those moody teenage years when they push against family influences in their quest for independence.

Today’s kids might as well have gadgets sewn into their hips because they are rarely found without smartphones, tablets or laptop computers being used to play games, do homework and seek entertainment. This can be a little disconcerting if you grew up in the generation where computers were rows of giant boxes with reels in a room instead of powerful tools in the palm of your hand.

How is a grandparent to compete for attention with the gizmos and the powerful distractions of the Internet? Telling kids to put away their devices during visits can be difficult, and having a presence in the lives of grandchildren when they’re away is challenging.

Some grandparents are actually using technology to break through, sending friendly emails to older grandchildren, getting on Skype video chat with younger ones to be playful– all of which help create a sense of continuity between visits. This is especially critical in families where frequent close encounters are prohibitively expensive, physically challenging, or otherwise difficult to arrange.

Kids typically run in separate social circles from their parents and grandparents, so having something in common with your grandchild is important if sharing is to happen, according to the website Grandparents.com. Perhaps you can play the same games or read the same book for conversations about these things to start. Mail the directions (or, if possible, the supplies) for something you both can do (like gardening or cooking) and then follow up by mailing each other updates and photos.

Social media is a great way to connect not only with family but others as well. You can get a glimpse into the life of a loved one (as long as you respect their privacy) and share all of the pictures you take with the kids when you do get that precious face time to visit with them.

Photos uploaded to “the cloud” can be shared with anyone you select. Choose family photographs, photos of favorite pets, or favorite places to visit — anything that will remind your grandchildren of your good times together. You’ll have a virtual meeting place where you can both go for the sanctuary of familiar comforts and unconditional love in troubling times.

These are just a few of the ways that Rome seniors can use technology to build stronger connections with today’s computer-savvy and often distracted grandkids.