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Price of long-distance grandkids

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

If you aren't factoring money for computers and/or smartphones into your retirement planning, this could be an expensive oversight, especially if you are a grandparent.

An AARP survey from 2002, shows that 45 percent of grandparents have grandchildren who live more than 200 miles away from them.

Ellen Breslau, who was the long-time executive editor of magazine Woman's Day, has leaped to Grandparents.com where she is editor-in-chief. Breslau isn't quite old enough to be a grandma herself, but she says she understands the readership for this website because research tells her they are the same women who used to be loyal readers of Woman's Day. "I feel like I know these people incredibly well," she says.

She believes her current readers have many of the same concerns they used to, but instead of concentrating on their own children, they are focused on their grandchildren. One of the most popular discussion groups on the site is "Grandparenting from afar," where much of the conversation centers on communicating via computers and mobile devices.

Breslau says that long-distance grandparents who come to her site are particularly interested in making and posting videos of their grandchildren -- the site has attracted 6.5 million viewers of cute grandchild pictures.

Her readers also are Facebook devotees with more than 33,000 clicking to say that they are Grandparent.com fans. Breslau says she thinks this is only the beginning. "Some grandparents are just getting comfortable with email and starting to go to Facebook," she says.

So if you are a long-distance grandma or grandpa or expect to reach that status in retirement, then you better get cracking. Talking to your grandchildren (even if they are close by) will require a computer or at least a smartphone, preferably with a built-in camera, and access to the Internet. You also may want a printer, plus paper and ink, so you can make copies of all those cute kid pictures. Expect to spend at least $600 a year for a decent phone and an all-you-can-talk phone and data access package. Pricey, but worth it.

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