Helen Rich, 81, uses Facebook to keep up with her children and grandchildren, some of whom live in Indianapolis and others in North Carolina. Although her family in Indy lives nearby, they lead busy lives and Rich has found that Facebook keeps them all in touch.
Carolyn R. Johnson, 81, uses her Smartphone to text with family and friends. And when her grandchildren come to visit her at Greenwood Meadows where she is recovering from a surgery, they might watch old movies on her tablet.
Like a growing number of seniors, these women have come to rely on social media such as Facebook and other applications to stay in touch with grandchildren and children. “I’ve been on Facebook at least a year, maybe a little longer,” says Rich, “now I can’t do without it.” Her son taught her how to use Facebook and helped set up her page which she accesses through computers at Rosegate, operated by American Senior Communities. She also has her own iPad and a number of other useful tools, including an iPhone with access to the Internet through Rosegate’s Wifi.
American Senior Communities helps seniors utilize new technology by holding Facebook classes. Social media experts help them set up their own Facebook pages and teach them how to use them. Rosegate resident Debra Womack, 60, says she checks her Facebook page eight to ten times a day. “I always let my family and friends know on my Facebook page how I’m doing so they don’t worry,” she says. She also listens to music on her computer and uses her iPad to download books.
According to a study by AARP and Microsoft, youth are communicating more nowadays with their parents and grandparents because of social media. The study also found that:
● –40 percent of teens helped their grandparents go online.
●–30 percent of grandparents and 29 percent of teens say connecting online helps them better understand each other.
●–70 percent of teens said being online increases the amount of time they communicate with family members.
The number of seniors using Facebook has been on the rise since at least 2012, when 35 percent of those over age 65 used the site. Interestingly, as the number of grandparents on Facebook continues to climb, the number of young people on Facebook is dropping. Experts say the reason teens are leaving Facebook is simple: it’s not cool hanging out with grandma or mom and dad. Additionally, with so much adult supervision on Facebook, teens may prefer the anonymity offered on other sites adults don’t use as much.
Not to worry, however, because seniors are finding their way to those sites too in their quest to stay connected to their grandchildren and other family members and friends. They Skype, use Apple’s FaceTime, tweet on Twitter, use Instagram and post on LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Grandparents’ Day is Sunday, September 13 – connect your kids with their grandparents via social media and let them both take advantage of the benefits that technology can have on their relationship!