Facebooking the Grandkids

Facebooking the Grandkids

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These days our lives are filled with technologies such as eBooks, the Internet, iPads, iPhones, social media and microblogging sites.  There is a risk that seniors can feel socially isolated by the use of these technologies and rue the days of simply penning a letter.   Some of our children and probably most of our grandchildren have never known a world that didn’t feature a mobile phone to send a text message or the internet to send an email and would never think to write a letter. But we’d be wrong to assume our retired generation is not getting to grips with modern technology.  Recent studies have shown that the over 55’s is the fastest growing group of computer users to sign up to social networking websites such as Facebook.

Notably it is older women who are eagerly embracing Facebook and other communication solutions such as Skype and webcams, using technology to enhance their lives by helping them keep in touch with their networks of friends.  Recent months has seen the appearance of sites such as “My Grandma is on Facebook” and ''Proud to be a Grandma" on Facebook.

Laurel Papworth, a social network expert explains:  ''Senior citizens are time-rich and want to go where their grandchildren will go.  From 2009 we began to see this shift where senior citizens were signing up to Facebook.''

In March this year, the Council of the Aging (COTA) released a report on “Older Victorians Online”. Surveying 174 Victorians aged over 55, the study found that over 35% of older Victorians engaged not only with friends and family on social media networks but also interacted with people they didn’t know over shared interests on online platforms.

It found that not only are seniors increasingly using the internet for social networking but also they are skilled at using email and are feeling empowered by confidently carrying out other online activities such as paying bills online, indulging in a spot of e-commerce, booking online accommodation and organising their banking online.

Social integration is vital for older people who can otherwise feel socially excluded due to decreased mobility or poor health.   Social networking sites can help engage many isolated elderly people who live far away from families and friends.  The internet can provide opportunity to connect with the outside world and provide a sense of community whilst offering new opportunities to connect, share photos, stories, find new friends with shared interests.  According to a study at the University of Alabama, retirees who use the internet regularly are 28% less likely to be classified as depressed.

For those who wish to expand their knowledge or start their social media interactive journey, The University of the Third Age's has many courses that can help kick start the social media journey.  They have computer courses from the basic operation of computers to classes on Facebook, cyber safety, using Paypal and eBay and for the more adventurous, how to build a website.

Or subscribe to Facebook pages set up by retirement communities which connect members with other likeminded individuals and run regular events for Facebook seniors interested in retirement lifestyle options.Bottom of Form

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