Shelby Hoefling has always been close with her now-95-year-old grandmother, who goes by "Nanny." They're so close that when not together, they make serious use of video chatting, which inspired Shelby to not only write a children's book about staying connected with grandparents over the phone but also start creating long-distance TikTok videos together.
Shelby's book, Grandma's in the Phone!, was published in 2019 but has quickly become more relevant than ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit the US in March and families are utilising virtual resources for staying in touch. (She already has a second book coming out, Teacher's in the Computer!, to teach kids how to handle the ins and outs of virtual learning.)
"There have been children's books to help kids learn how to share, how to be kind, how to make friends, etc., but there isn't a children's book to teach and inspire children how to have quality video conversations."
"I wrote this book because I started to notice that children were using FaceTime more often these days to stay in touch with family members, only there wasn't a children's book to teach them how to do it! There have been children's books to help kids learn how to share, how to be kind, how to make friends, etc., but there isn't a children's book to teach and inspire children how to have quality video conversations," Shelby told POPSUGAR. "When two people are FaceTiming, you can see each other and actually do fun things together! I know that grandparents especially want to play an active role in their grandchildren's lives even when they are far away, and in doing so it makes them happier, and it's been proven that the happier older adults are, the healthier they are and the longer they live. I hope that my book inspires and teaches children to have quality video calls with their grandparents."
This spring, Shelby was spending more and more time with Nanny over the phone because of their limited ability to see each other, and even though they've seen a bit of each other since the onset of the pandemic, the pair's first — and some of their best! — TikTok creations were made with many miles between them through FaceTime. "So literally, my grandma was in my phone . . . doing TikTok!" Shelby said. Now Shelby's account is full of adorable clips of the duo.
"I love that these TikTok videos can inspire others to do fun things like dancing or making videos with their grandparents."
"Making videos with my Nanny is extremely FUN. It requires us both to be extremely attentive, present, and use as much brainpower as possible. Some videos take longer than others, but it's always important that each time we make a video, we get silly, goofy, and have fun with it," Shelby said. "I simply just love hanging out with my grandma, and TikTok has just spiced things up for us! During those weeks of social distancing, I was going crazy and needed to laugh with her while doing these. They kept me sane!"
She added: "Any time that I spend with my Nanny is the best part of my day, and if I get to share these special moments with others to brighten their day, then that makes me happy! I also love that these TikTok videos can inspire others to do fun things like dancing or making videos with their grandparents . . . no matter your age, I think it's important to have fun and allow our grandparents to play an active role in our lives! They can do anything."
Keep scrolling to see some of Shelby and Nanny's best TikTok videos together and to buy Shelby's book Grandma's in the Phone!.