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Monday, 23rd November 2020

Technology keeping the magic of Christmas alive for children and grandparents

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Mary Dunne, 78, from Ardee, Co Louth, talks to grandson Jack, 11, over Zoom as part of Louth County Council’s ‘Superconnectors’ initiative, which asks young people to help older relatives set up and use technology to stay connected over Christmas and beyond. Photo: Ken Finegan/Newspics.

One of the worst aspects of this Coronavirus for many people is that they can’t have a chat and a hug with their grandchildren and of course the children are also missing their grans terribly.

Nothing will ever replace a hug from your granny or grandad but last week one fully-charged supergran managed to keep the magic of Christmas alive by making her traditional Christmas pud and sharing the experience on Zoom with nine of her grandchildren – three of whom were in Belgium.

Mary Dunne, 78, from Ardee, was determined not to allow lockdown restrictions ruin the tradition of her grandkids making a wish as she stirred her mixture three times.

Now the gran-of-17 is backing the Louth County Council campaign which asks youngsters to teach older relatives how to use technology so everyone stays connected over the festive season – and beyond.

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Mary Deery, the council’s Age Friendly co-ordinator, said Wee County tech champions aged nine and above can lead the charge, which she hopes will resonate nationally.

“We need children using software such as TeamViewer to take control of their grandparents’ screens, download software, set up accounts and teach them how to use apps in real time,” she said.

“Most of us are used to Zoom and Teams meetings, but how many of us can say that they are simple for older people to set up?

“It can be a wonderful act of gifting to older people who need technology in their hands for practical things but also to combat the loneliness and isolation of Covid-19.”

Parents also play a key role and are asked to ensure that older relatives have the devices they need to get connected.

Clare-native Mary Dunne believes it is a golden opportunity to bridge the digital gap between the generations.

“The first step is getting rid of your fears, after that it is plain sailing and young people can play a great role in connecting older people remotely, especially if they are apart from loved ones over Christmas,” she said.

 

“When I was doing the Christmas pudding, I got the three grandchildren in Brussels, three in Malahide, Dublin and the others in Ardee, on screen.

“I put a little Santa figure on the bowl so he was stirring with a wooden spoon and I counted one, two, three and they all made a wish – there was great excitement.”

She has fully embraced technology, using a laptop, iPad, iPhone and Apple watch to stay in touch with family and friends, and has won an Age Action IT Enthusiast award.

Louth County Council’s Public Participation Network (PPN) co-ordinator, Grainne Carroll, said the campaign also aims to connect children with relatives living overseas and unable to return home this year.

“If you want to do something really meaningful this Christmas, make sure you can say you connected someone,” she said.

For more information, check out louthcoco.ie, louthppn.ie and Louth County Council’s social media channels.

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