TikTokers are dancing with their grandparents for content, and it could help curb the pandemic of loneliness among older people

It’s cool to TikTok with your grandparents. lewisleighh, rebekah_and_papaw / TikTok
  • There are lots of accounts on TikTok where grandparents and grandchildren are making videos together.
  • Some were set up exclusively for them to make content together, following the latest trends and trying out dances.
  • Other young people have been finding ways to bond with their grandparents while in isolation together, or when they bring them supplies.
  • Loneliness expert and CEO of No Isolation, Karen Dolva, told Insider having hobbies together makes connections even stronger.
  • Rebekah Miller, who makes videos with her grandpa, said everyone should have a strong relationship with their grandparents. and making videos together creates memories “you will have for generations to come.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Rebekah Miller started making TikToks with her grandfather, who she calls Pawpaw, in 2019, and that’s when the account really started to take off.

“I was shocked honestly, I never thought this would happen,” Miller told Insider. “I remember when one video hit over 1 million likes, I ran into Grandpa’s room and he said, ‘Woah, that’s a lot of people,’ and we both laughed.”

@rebekah_and_papawIts been over a year since my first video with Papaw!! Can youbelieve it?! ##fyp##papaw##cute##xyzbca##foryou

loriginal sound – rebekah_and_papaw

Pawpaw now reacts with humorous denial any time they hit another milestone, shaking his head and saying “Nahhhhh.”

“I think they enjoy grandpa mostly,” Miller said of their 428,000 followers. “I get a lot of comments saying that he reminds people of their loved one who has passed on. I want people to feel love and joy when they see my grandpa.”

TikTok brings grandchildren and grandparents together

There are many accounts on TikTok that feature older people. Some accounts are joint ventures of grandparents and their grandchildren where they try out the newest trends and dances, while others are grandparents trying it out for themselves.

87-year-old Joe Allington, for example, has two million followers on his account Grandad Joe, where he hangs out with his granddaughter Brooke, posts comedy skits, and makes all round wholesome content.

“I was completely shocked at the number of people from every corner of the world who watch me on TikTok,” he told the Washington Post. “But I don’t do it for the fame. I do it for the tremendous fun with my granddaughter.”

Some young TikTokers, like Lewis Leigh, have started involving their grandparents in their videos when they drop them off supplies during the coronavirus quarantine.

@lewisleighhso today I went to get my nans essential groceries and when Idelivered them we made a tiktok lol ##fyp##foryou##nan##uk##grandma

lLaxed (Siren Beat) – Jawsh 685

Leigh’s first video with his grandma was actually posted back in February, but it was the dance when he brought her some essential groceries that went viral.

“Me and my nan have a very special bond,” he told Insider. “She lives on her own, and obviously right now with the pandemic going on and we’re in lockdown, I think it’s very important to keep in contact with her and do things.”

He said first and foremost he enjoys making the videos with her because his viewers like them so much.

“Plus there’s loads of positives about it,” he said. “It keeps my nan active, it gives her something to think about, when we do a video and it does really well I know it makes her feel really good about herself.”

Leigh and his nan were close anyway, but TokToking has given them something new to talk about. He said he would encourage anyone with a TikTok to get their grandparents involved too, because they’re probably “very bored right now” and missing being around their loved ones.

“In this time of lockdown and social distancing and things, where we can’t show any love to our grandparents, I think it’s so important we tell them all the time, and we make sure that we’re going to see them,” he said. “It’s so important to make sure that they are loved and thought of and cared of.”

There are some famous older faces on TikTok

Sam Williams, whose grandmother is none other than Hollywood royalty Dame Judy Dench, has noticed his TikToks blow up when she features in them.

Sam Williams Judi Dench
Sam Williams and his grandmother Judy Dench. @sam.williams1 / TikTok

He told Insider they are incredibly close, and it’s hard not being able to see her because of the lockdown.

“Because we’re not together, it’s really difficult to have that kind of jokey thing with her,” he said. “So I just thought that I would start incorporating her into my TikToks because it’s something that she doesn’t know anything about. It’s just a really fun thing for us to both do together.”

Sometimes Williams calls up Dench, who he calls “Ma,” from an iPad and films her reacting to his jokes. Other times they have a go at a viral TikTok dance.

“I love the fact that I’m doing it with my grandma,” he said. “And for me, it’s not about the views, for me it’s trying to put a smile onto people’s faces. And in this time of so much uncertainty, to get someone to smile or have that bit of light in their day, that’s all I care about.”

Williams loves the fact that so many different generations are involved in TikTok, so fans of his grandma might just be casually scrolling through their feed one day and see her face pop up. He now has over 114,000 followers, and it’s growing every day.

“If it brings a smile or a laugh to someone who’s slightly older who knows her work and sees her in this way, that’s all that matters to me to be honest,” he said.

@sam.williams1Not quite sure why TikTok took this down… Like Grandma, LikeGrandson ##fyp##fy##dance##foryou##famousrelative##judidench##jamesbond##m

loriginal sound – sam.williams1

Hobbies make connections stronger

Loneliness is an epidemic among older people. Living alone, the loss of friends and relatives, and no longer being able to go out and socialise are just a few factors that contribute to loneliness and isolation among the older population.

Loneliness is associated with a worse diet, less exercise, and the mental health issues such as depression that about 15% of the world’s over 60s live with. There’s even some evidence loneliness can negatively impact immune and cardio-vascular health.

Karen Dolva the CEO of No Isolation, which is a tech company dedicated to tackling loneliness, told Insider there’s no doubt that sharing hobbies with older people is a great way to challenge those feelings of isolation. Making TikTok videos, for example, can also make existing connections even stronger.

“I feel like some families have always been great at that, but now it’s being spread, which is super cool,” Dolva said. “If I ever become a grandparent, that’s exactly how I want my grandkids to treat me – bring me along, try to try to teach me new things that keep me in the loop.”

Age doesn’t define how someone relates to technology, because there are 90-year-olds who are perfectly happy using an iPhone, while some 68-year-olds find keeping up more of a hassle.

Dolva said TikTok is also a great way to involve older people because it’s so visual. It’s one thing to try and explain a video platform to your grandparents, but it’s another to be able to show them.

“We get the most value out of the everyday things – the small ways of knowing that people care about us and that we’re not alone in this world,” she said. “Like these grandkids who are now suddenly involving their grandparents in stuff that they wouldn’t normally do. That’s a great effect.”

She said everyone should think about how these connections can be continued when the world starts going back to normal.

“We need to have a good think about how we make sure that doesn’t go away,” she said. “Not all of lockdown has been bad. I think we’re learning quite a lot about ourselves and how we would like things to be.”

@grandadjoe1933I ate the chocolates and replaced with carrots @brookepaintain –##museumfromhome##museumathome##namastyay##prank

loriginal sound – conormaynard

‘These are videos we will hold onto forever’

Miller was raised by her Pawpaw, and said he’s more like a dad to her than a grandad.

“He taught me how to ride a bike, fish, drive, and will walk me down the aisle if I ever get married,” she said. “He’s like the parent I never had, and he did a job he never had to do for both me and my older sister.”

She said his favourite part of making TikToks is talking to his followers and connecting with people all over the world. It’s also brought them closer together in a lot of ways because they’re “always talking about TikTok.”

“He always asks, ‘Hows TikTok doing?’ ‘What’s trending on TikTok?’ and ‘How many people have seen it now?’ she said. “We were close before, and I have always made videos of him on my Snapchat, Facebook, etc, for years. Now it’s just something we can share with others. These are videos we will hold onto forever.”

She said she always follows other accounts of young people and their older relatives, and believes a strong relationship with their grandparents is something everyone should be able to have.

“It’s harder for some older people to go out and do things now,” she said. “So keeping in contact and helping family out is very important always and definitely more so now.”

Miller hopes people take away from their videos how a strong bond can help you through the ups and downs in life.

“Nothing in life is easy, but with our loved ones by our side it will always be OK,” she said. “My grandpa is everyone’s grandpa, and he will sure love everybody like a grandpa does.”

@rebekah_and_papawDay 3… give it up for day 3! ##fyp##foryou##coronavirus##quarantine

loriginal sound – rebekah_and_papaw

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