Gone are the days when the internet was only for Millennials and Gen X. These days Baby Boomers and those who grew up during the Depression are getting online and making use of the vast number of resources on social media platforms and websites. That doesn’t mean that all ages use these tools the same way, however. A study by Dr. Joe Coughlin at the MIT AgeLab found that “younger users use the service as a celebration of self, a place to post about their life, their friends, pictures, updates, check-ins, says Coughlin. The 50-plus group uses it to connect with new people with similar interests, to seek out information about health care, caregiving, and find communities to belong to, in addition to the pleasure gained from seeing photos of family and friends.”
That’s all wonderfully empowering for today’s independent-minded seniors who want to continue running their lives as they always have. Thanks to the internet, health and mobility concerns have less of an impact, or at least a different impact, on elders’ abilities to socialize, manage money, refill prescriptions, shop, and share information. Social media allows them to keep up with their grandchildren, nieces, and nephews in a whole new way, as well as reconnect with old friends who they may have lost touch with. In addition to their busy, active real-world lives, seniors can be even more productive and connected online, pursuing new interests and making new friends.
This is great news for those who still think your golden years are defined by loneliness and infirmity. If anything the internet can help combat these stereotypes, by giving seniors unprecedented access to health advise and social networks. Learning new skills can enhance memory quality, and access to information on events and travel booking can help seniors live more active lives. They can even participate in pop culture more simply by being in the know on social media and having access to the latest news, television shows, movies, and more.
This holiday season, talk to someone you love about how you can help them be more technologically savvy. Now that seniors are tuned in to the value tech literacy can add to their lives, it’s a great time to help you loved one gain these skills and enrich his or her life with a web presence. It might only take a few hours or helping him or her locate a computer class for seniors to give them a whole new way to interact with the world.