Elders Find Comfort and a “Bigger” World Using Facebook and Twitter

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The desolate loneliness too often accompanying the toil of growing old may soon vanish.

Or, in time, the burden may at least lessen. Thanks, that is, to social media and its power to connect people.

Some older men and women, well into their 90s and on into their 100’s, are now being taught how to use Facebook, Twitter and blogging platforms, and the tech know-how is transforming their existence, reports Aylin Zafar in a superbly reported and researched piece recently published in The Atlantic in conjunction with a MetLife Foundation Journalists on Aging Fellows Program.

Classes on social media, being taught at some senior centers and assisted living facilities, are helping isolated older adults better connect with loved ones, young and old, as well as make new cyber friends.

Many of the classes focus specifically on social networking, reports Zafar, namely “How to Use Twitter”, “How to Use Facebook”, “Internet Safety”, and YouTube tutorials.

Among several research studies Zafar cites in the article is mention of a soon-to-be-published study authored by Sheila Cotten, PhD, finding that older adults who used the Internet are 30% less likely to experience symptoms of depression.

Some of the older research participants cited in the piece by Zafar said, after being exposed to newer social media technologies, that they were “no longer feeling left behind” and that “the world” seemed “bigger.”

If that doesn’t warm a techie’s heart, we’re not sure what would. Hm, perhaps some do-gooder techie out there reading this right now (could it be you?) may feel so inspired as to check in with your local senior center to see if it may be in need of volunteer social-media instructors.

We’re just saying, or, okay, we full-on admit it, nudging.