Spending time with grandparents helps reduce ageism in kids

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Kids who spend quality time with their grandparents are more accepting of the elderly, according to a recent study.

By spending more time with their grandparents, children develop positive views about the aged and are less likely to be ageist.

Researchers from the University of Liege studied 1,151 children in Belgium aged between seven and 16 to find out how much time they spent with their grandparents and their attitudes towards the aged.

"The most important factor associated with ageist stereotypes was poor quality of contact with grandparents," lead researcher Allison Flamion said.

"We asked children to describe how they felt about seeing their grandparents. Those who felt unhappy were designated as having poor quality of contact.

"When it came to ageist views, we found that quality of contact mattered much more than frequency."

The children were asked what they thought about older people and the ageing process. They were then asked to describe their relationship with their grandparents and discuss how often they spent time with them, what they did when they were together and how they assessed their overall health.

How the children viewed the elderly was impacted by the amount of time they spent with their grandparents, the closeness of their relationship and the health of their grandparents.

Researchers found that the kids who spent regular, quality time with their grandparents and viewed them as healthy, had the most positive views of elderly people. While those children who had limited contact with their grandparents or viewed their health as poor, had less positive views about older people.

Overall, the researchers found that kids aged between 10 and 12 years old, who spent time with their grandparents for at least one hour per week, had the most positive views of the elderly.

"For many children, grandparents are their first and most frequent contact with older adults," co-author Stephane Adam said.

"Our findings point to the potential of grandparents to be part of intergenerational programs designed to prevent ageism."