My two children spend a lot of their free time plugged into their many (and growing!) social networks – their Facebook, their Twitter, on their smart phones, their laptops, e-mailing, texting, status-updating. Today’s technology may seem a little overwhelming (not to mention unnecessary) to you—so I can only imagine how your parents might feel, who might have grown up when every telephone call was connected by an operator or their correspondences written long-hand.
A few months back we posted about connecting aging adults to Skype so they might stay in touch with their families, and about considering getting them an iPad for easy e-mailing, picture viewing, movie watching, etc. If you or their grandchildren have a Facebook, perhaps your parents should create one, too. It is a little frightening to picture my elderly father browsing the stuff with which today’s 20-somethings brandish their profiles, but it would have been a fantastic way for him to stay connected with me and his grandchildren through their high school and college years.
So how might we get our parents connected to today’s social media? I asked an expert: a twenty-one year old college junior who writes a successful music blog. Here is his advice: Start with letting them play around with the product. Bring them to the Apple store and show them the iPad; show them your Facebook or Blackberry; get them comfortable with the potentially intimidating formats. Maybe even get them set up on a blog? There are a handful of free and easy-to-use blogging formats like Blogspot, WordPress, and the growing Tumblr. As your parents get older, they undoubtedly have an enormous treasure trove of memories and reflections they want to share—a blog would be a great way for them to do that.
All of this is certainly possible. Facebook was the 45th most visited site by seniors last year; it’s risen to #3 this year. You might have missed this slice of soft news, but the world’s oldest Twitter user died this past summer at 104:
Bean’s online activity drew headlines in recent years because of her age, and she had been called the world’s oldest Twitter user, though that is difficult to verify. She became a member of Facebook at age 102, but she quickly migrated to Twitter because it was easier, she said, and because she could have more followers. She had maxed out her friend limit on Facebook. Earlier this year, Bean tweeted that she had 25,000 pending friend requests.
You can even tell seniors that their tweets are allowed to start “When I was young…” Just remind them there’s a 140 character limit!!
Do your parents or older loved ones use social media?
©Circle of Life Partners™