Grandparents: Key to Fighting Ageism?


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Studies have shown ageism, or discrimination based on someone’s age, is alive and well in children. In fact, kids as young as three hold negative stereotypes about older people. Now researchers are finding there’s an important factor that might help the young see the elderly in a different light.

Grandparents. They’re fun, loving, and they know how to spoil their grandkids! A new study shows they may play another important role. Researchers from Belgium looked at 1,151 children and teens between ages seven and 16. They collected info about their relationships with their grandparents and also asked their thoughts about the elderly.

The study found ten to 12 year olds were the least likely group to have ageist views toward the elderly. Results also showed youngsters who described their contact with grandparents as “good” or “very good” had more favorable feelings about older people. Researchers found the quality of the relationship with the grandparents mattered more than how often they saw each other. The bottom line? If you want your kids to have a positive view of older people, helping them establish a relationship with their grandparents is a good first step.

Grandparents’ health was also another factor in how kids saw the elderly. Children who perceived that their grandparents were in poor health were more likely to hold ageist views than those with grandparents in better health.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.