I recommend checking out this short piece, Help Seniors Stay Connected Through Technology, published in The Tennessean. Written by Ann Bishop, the article suggests ways to help seniors and I might add, aging parents, engage with technology and take more advantage of communication opportunities.
Technology should be a two-part gift, where in addition to giving the equipment, loved ones give the gift of their time to help seniors learn how to use it. Show them how to open up an email account, sign up for Facebook or answer their smartphone. Be patient, focus on ease of use and be ready for lots of questions every time they log in until they figure it out. Understand that it will take time and will require repetition before a senior is comfortable.