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Too old for Twitter? You bet your magic beans you’re not

Social media an important tool for seniors

Author: Amy VanDeVelde/Monday, April 07, 2014/Categories: Technology, Technology2

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I had a lovely surprise this weekend at the movie theater when the preview movie trailer for "Draft Day" played. See for yourself:

Yes, indeed, people over 50 are becoming more engaged with the digital world as a way to stay connected. According to the Pew Internet Project’s Social Networking Fact Sheet from September 2013, 65 percent of adults ages 50 – 64 use social networking sites while 46 percent of people 65 and over do.
Facebook in particular has become an important resource for people over 50. Facebook not only helps to combat social isolation but also improves memory. A preliminary study conducted at University of Arizona using the OASIS Facebook course found that older adults who used Facebook performed about 25 percent better than they did at the start of the survey on tasks designed to measure their mental updating abilities.
Technology may not be the first language of this group of “digital immigrants," but they are completely capable of adopting new technologies. Since 2000, the number of people over 65 using the Internet has increased from slightly over 10 percent to 59 percent in late 2013—incredible progress.
To be sure, 41 percent of people 65-plus are not yet online and this certainly limits their access to information and to staying connected to loved ones. But connected or not, we now live in a world where technology is evolving more quickly than some people can keep up with. Mature adults not yet online report that they would need help to learn how to do so. 
Although technology is "new school," old school teaching methods rule to learn it. Reluctant learners with minimal technology experience continue to learn best in a classroom setting of people with similar technical experience with a patient teacher giving step by step instruction with plenty of practice time. Workbooks and handouts help new learners retain what they learned once they have left the classroom. Even people familiar with technology report they will continually need help to stay in step with these rapid changes. Grandchildren, public libraries and senior technology training programs are  pitching in to help, but more training resources are needed.
Share your story about how you got started with technology. Who do you turn to for help with technology? Has Facebook made a difference in your life?

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Amy VanDeVelde
Amy VanDeVelde

Amy VanDeVelde

Amy VanDeVelde is the National Connections Program Manager for the OASIS Institute. She joined the OASIS Institute in 2012 to oversee the technology training program. She has a personal stake in Media Literacy and Digital Citizenship. Follow Amy on Twitter @AmyVanDeVelde. Other posts by Amy VanDeVelde
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2 comments on article "Too old for Twitter? You bet your magic beans you're not"


Mary G. Wilson

4/9/2014 11:45 AM

The great thing about Connections training (not that I'm biased or anything!) is that it removes the scariness of trying something new, like technology - whether it's learning how to use a computer or signing on to social media - for the older adult. While trying something new may not be a big deal for some, it is for others.



4/9/2014 7:32 PM

Here is my totally unscientific opinion of that 65% of seniors on social media. This comes from teaching Oasis Connections classes for the past few years mixed in with personal observation outside of Oasis. Ready? Probably 75-80% of that 65% are women! (Look at the video again)

Women dominate the numbers in every one of my classes. They are eager to learn new technology, if for no other reason than to keep up with their children and especially, grandchildren. While not every woman in my classes has easily made it through (a few have dropped out and some have finished no further ahead than where they started), they are willing to try and are not embarrassed to do so, unlike (ahem) men. They are the ones that make the Skype (or Facetime) calls, they are the ones that get the pictures and show them to their spouses, often having to print them out first, they are the ones who get and respond to emails (even ones on their husband's email address), they are the ones who will shop on the Internet (but women will shop anywhere and men hate shopping!) and they are the ones posting YouTube videos and all those cat ,dog and baby animals pix and vids.

A lot of the older men that I see that are using digital technology are ones, like myself, who spent a lifetime with it and still find it fascinating, long after retiring.

I could go on and on, but the "badges" on my inbox and FB icons keep clocking up. Yikes!


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