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Thoroughly Modern Grandparents

Thoroughly Modern Grandparents  

Today’s grandparents are cooler, more technology-savvy and more involved in their grandchildren's lives than a generation ago. 

So says the children’s toyshop group, the Early Learning Centre, having investigated the role of grandparents in children’s lives. Research undertaken by NOP on behalf of ELC involved 750 parents of children aged up to 6 years old.  

Those of us who are grandparents may find the results very familiar

  • We are wealthier, healthier and more physically mobile than ever before. It's no longer a case of granny knitting cardies in the corner.


  • We are not strict and distant with the attitude that 'children should be seen and not heard'. Nor are we over-indulgent. Instead, we have re-emerged as the cool, fun silver surfer who can be found helping with homework on the internet or out in the garden playing rough and tumble! 

  • We so-called ‘silver surfers’ now represent 12 per cent of all internet users in the UK with a quarter of those of us aged 60 or older able to use the internet. About 60 per cent of grandparents use email to keep in contact with people.

  • We encourage our grandchildren in educational activities and getting outdoors. 

  • We are also heavily involved as carers, which involves taking the grandchildren on day trips (54 per cent), playing puzzle games (83 per cent), playing outdoor games (80 per cent), putting them to bed (48 per cent)

More children have living grandparents

  • With people living longer, the majority of children aged up to 6 have living grandparents (97 per cent) and half have great-grandparents – considerably higher numbers than for their parents. A generation earlier,  88 per cent had living grandparents at the same age and a third had a great-grandparent.

  • Over 60 per cent of kids have a grandparent living within an hour of their home and nearly half of those are within walking distance. 

  • Today’s children are spending more time with a grandparent than their parents did: more than three quarters of children see their grandparents more than once a week, compared with 64 per cent for their parents - a rise of over 10 per cent. 

  • A quarter of children are spending up to an hour with a grandparent everyday. Nearly 20 per cent spend more than four hours with their grandparents every day. Less than a quarter of kids don't spend time with their grandparents during the week.

  • Grandparents are top for giving presents: 70 per cent give more presents than anyone else at birthdays and other occasions. And they are best at buying useful and practical gifts, such as prams, which help out parents in a child’s early years. Only 16 per cent have bought gifts the child's parents didn't like.

  • A massive 93% of grandparents are considered ‘fun’!

Commenting on the role of grandparents, Dr Richard Woolfson, child psychologist, says: “More grandparents than ever before are living long enough to play an involved role in their grandchildren’s lives. Although grandparents are traditionally perceived as spoiling their grandchild – and may at times be accused of interfering in the child’s upbringing – the reality is that the grandparent-grandchild relationship makes a very important psychological contribution to a growing child’s development during those all-important formative years (and beyond) by proving guidance, support, care – and fun! “



laterlife interest

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