Here's another great reason to drop the kids off at grandma and grandpa's. A study recently published online in the journal Child Development examined how grandparents shape kids' views on aging. They found that those who have a good relationship with their grandparents are less likely to become prejudiced against the elderly.
Unfortunately, older people are often discriminated against or stereotyped due to their age. In a survey of 84 people, ages 60 and older, nearly 80 percent of respondents reported experiencing ageism, according to the American Psychological Association. This includes being treated unfairly in the workplace and having people assume they have memory or physical impairments due to their age.
According to researchers from the University of Liege in Belgium who worked on the recent study, ageism is fairly common in children, even in those as young as 3 years old. So, they wanted to see how the relationship between grandchildren and grandparents affects their views.
The researchers asked 1,151 Belgium kids, ages 7 to 16, to answer questions about older people, their opinions on getting old, and what their relationships with their grandparents is like. In addition, the researchers collected information about the children's grandparents, including the state of their health. They found that kids who had positive relationships with their grandparents were less likely to be prejudiced against people based on age.
“The most important factor associated with ageist stereotypes was poor quality of contact with grandparents,” lead researcher Allison Flamion, a psychology graduate student at the University of Liege, said in a press release. “When it came to ageist views, we found that quality of contact mattered much more than frequency.”
According to the researchers' findings, kids ages 7 to 9 were the most prejudiced toward the elderly while kids ages 10 to 12 years old were the least. They also found that kids who had grandparents in poorer health were more likely to be prejudiced against older adults than those who have healthy grandparents. Overall, girls were slightly more positive about older people than boys.
"For many children, grandparents are their first and most frequent contact with older adults. Our findings point to the potential of grandparents to be part of intergenerational programs designed to prevent ageism," study co-author Stephane Adam, a psychology professor at the University of Liege, said in a press release. "Next, we hope to explore what makes contacts with grandparents more rewarding for their grandchildren, as well as the effects on children of living with or caring for their grandparents."
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