Skip to content Skip to navigation

Seniors and teens: Multigenerational meetups matter

September 10, 2015
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
| Reprints

Teenagers are better adjusted emotionally and socially when they have close relationships with older adults, specifically grandparents, notes a new research survey appearing in the online edition in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, published by the American Psychological Association.

 Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem surveyed more than 1,400 teenagers (aged 12 to 18) and found that those with close relationships with seniors had fewer emotional problems, better social skills and reduced tendencies toward violence and bullying.

Public Broadcasting’s award-winning “In The Mix” series for teens has examined what seniors and teenagers can learn from each other, and how strong bonds between them can enrich both.  Creating activities that encourage teens and older adults to discuss era-based stereotypes, expressions and values can help the generations communicate better and value each other, notes a program guide relating to an “In The Mix” program segment.

“What kind of stereotypes might teens have about seniors?” the program moderator asks. Responses from teens participating in the segment included, “if seniors have physical disabilities, they aren’t smart or creative,” “seniors give advice but can’t understand a teen’s situation” and “seniors are boring.” Likewise, seniors shared their stereotypes on teens, including “teens don’t listen,” and “teens want instant gratification and aren’t interested in a project that takes a long time to complete.” Both generations learned that they had misjudged each other, the program explained.

Another empowering way to bring teens and seniors together is through one of a teen’s favorite subjects: Technology. Ask a teen to help a senior search for things on the Internet, take a "selfie" or learn how to email a digital photo.  If distance is a factor, try a video chat or a text message, or start an online game such as “Words With Friends.”

Cross-generational hobbies are another great way for seniors and teens to bond, says Beth McNeill-Muhs, owner of Artful Home Care, Long Island, N.Y., in a recent blog.  “It may seem like the pair do not have anything in common; however, once they begin to spend time together, they will quickly realize how much they can learn from one another.”

For more ideas on activities that can involve seniors and teens:

Bridging the Gap: Fun Activities for teens and seniors