By: Andy Nibley

Reprinted with permission by GRAND Magazine

In an attempt to better understand my grandkids, I have bitten the bullet and gone where I never thought I would ever go—into the belly of the Internet beast, at least that part of the Internet beast where the young ones go.

I\’m talking about the latest Internet rage; social media networks like MySpace and Facebook, YouTube, etc., online worlds where my grandchildren and millions like them spend countless hours meeting and interacting with their peers.

And I\’ve got to tell you something. These sites are actually fun—a lot of fun. They\’re a great way to spend time with your grandchildren.

I was a little nervous when I was first asked to join MySpace by one of my younger grandkids. I wasn\’t quite sure I would be cool enough to make the grade.

“You don\’t have to be cool,” she said. “You just have to be you, Grandpa.”

Love those kids.

Getting around MySpace was easier than I thought it was going to be. It\’s fairly intuitive. Basically you just fill out your profile, shining a spotlight on your personality by listing your favorite songs, movies, whatever. Uploading photos is pretty much obligatory. This generation tends to be very visual, and they like to look at their friends.

And that\’s what these social media networks are all about; friends. Your profile is linked to all your friends\’ profiles and then from there, onto your friends\’ friends\’ portfolios. Before you know it, you have a huge network of buddies and potential buddies.

My grandchildren think it\’s an absolute gas that I have a MySpace and Facebook profile. Some folks might object to this inter-generational congregation. Shouldn\’t kids have their place to hand out, adults theirs?

Well, the way these sites work, you can only go where you\’re invited to go. If the kids don\’t want you to be their”friend,” then they lock you out of their circle.

Many of you will not have grandchildren old enough to use these sites. But all the evidence points to them using these sites in the not-too-distant future. So you might want to start getting used to these social networks sooner rather than later.

Even before the Internet, grandparents and grandchildren were finding ways to socially network. And that will never change.

Christine Crosby, a grandmother and great-grandmother, has been a successful entrepreneur, book and magazine publisher, and child/family advocate for 30 years. At 61, she is the perfect example of why the traditional grandparent images no longer apply. A dynamic, blond, high-energy entrepreneur, Christine is a passionate and articulate advocate for children who has worked for more than 20 years to strengthen families and protect abused kids, first as a book publisher and later as the founder and publisher of a chain of family magazines. Her own grandchildren and great-grandchild were the inspiration for GRAND Magazine, an unprecedented resource for today's grandparents.