Thursday, December 12, 2013

In The Pursuit of Happiness: On grandparents and social media

My grandfather was pretty amazing when it came to technology and social media. He was on Facebook. He handled his own stock portfolio online. He was a whiz with his iPad. And what was even more amazing was seeing the world that opened up for him thanks to the World Wide Web. In the old days, say a few years ago, the World Wide Web and all those new social networking sites were a young person’s paradise. Their face was plastered all over Facebook. Their sacred space was MySpace. They were the rulers of their own digital domain. It belonged to them.

But those days are gone, and in their place? A new crop ready to take over the Web. Fast and furiously.

Your grandparents.

If you’re still not convinced that the wonderful world of social media is no longer a young person’s playground, AARP magazine, the long-standing bible for the Golden Years, has solid proof.

• AARP now features a social-networking section on its Web site.

• A recent survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that, for the first time, more than half of adults 65 and older are online. And, one in three of them uses social networking sites such as Facebook, Skype or Twitter.

This boom is a revolutionary way for them to stay connected, especially across great distances, with the people who matter to them the most; family, friends and if not most important, grandchildren.

My family has even become part of the technology revolution. My mother has helped several women learn the ins and outs of the computer and Internet -- and that’s saying a lot if you know my mother’s own computer capabilities. She’s also helped my grandfather enjoy the comforts of Netflix. And my sister started off the whole trend when she was in middle school and participated in a program called Senior Surfers, which paired an older person with a student so the student could show them the ropes of this newfangled gadget called the Internet.

This is nothing short of amazing if you ask me. Those lovely seniors will no longer be relegated to a weekly phone call or snail-mail letter like it was with my grandparents when I was a child. Now they can keep in contact on Facebook. e-mail each other at any time of the day. Even use Skype to chat in real-time.
It will keep them healthy, happy and keep them engaged with the world. Who wouldn't want that for their grandmother or grandfather? I encourage you to take some time this summer and put your tech skills to good use. You never know. Before we know it, the younger generation might be going to those tech-savvy seniors for advice.

Are your grandparents online, friends? How often do you chat with them? Do they use social media? xoxo

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