Join Facebook? For three years I avoided the site. I knew that some of my friends from work, church, and other activities were joining, but I just did not feel like it was a fit. My daughter, then in graduate school, used the social networking site, and she occasionally suggested I get started with Facebook. Still I refrained.
At some point, however, I became aware that my mother and my daughter were communicating with each other more than usual. They knew things about each other that I did not know. Finally my daughter mentioned that her grandmother — my mother — was on Facebook and that the two of them had “friended’ one another. That’s when I called Mom, at that time age 81. She explained that her fellow workers from the Obama campaign, exceptional young people she called them, had arranged virtual reunions on Facebook. They wanted her to participate and helped her get started.
So I found that I was in the middle, but basically out of the generational communication loop. By the time I tuned in, my mother had over 100 friends, all people she knew in one way or another (no strangers, she reassured me), and quite a few in her age range. I signed up for Facebook.
About a year ago the Albany Times Union, Grandpa’s On Facebook, Should You Be? published an article about the increasing number of elders now using the social networking site. Writer Lynda Shrager tells a bit about her experience getting started with Facebook and especially how a good number of her friends are elders. She also points out that digital communication can alleviate loneliness — a big problem as people age.
I am not surprised. I am a supporter of seniors and technology, and have written a lot on this blog about how elders can productively use virtual tools. With my mom on Facebook (along with all of her other computer endeavors and now she is even texting) and my Dad using his iPad (checkout my series iPad for Dad, now up to 13 installments), we are always in touch, and that’s good.
N.B. On my other blog, Media!Tech!Parenting!, I’ve posted a number of pieces about Facebook and privacy — useful if your aging parent has entered the world of social networking.