Recently my mother, a true Life Changer, started sending me emails. In her latter years (I am sworn not to reveal her age) she has gone back to study computer skills, and she and her older sister send all manner of unwanted spam emails to members of the family who write back begging them not to pass on any more bad jokes or warnings about the danger of drinking from plastic bottles. My mother has rediscovered a large family back in her native city of London who she talks and sends photos to regularly. She and my aunt aren’t alone in their embracing of the Internet.
The fastest growing users of Facebook are not tweenagers but people over the age of 74 according to social media expert Laurel Papworth. The number of such users has almost quadrupled in two years. These true Life Changers are not sitting at home and knitting, or playing golf following retirement, they are out reinventing themselves, using their brains, growing synapses by getting their grandkids to teach them the art of social networking. They are blogging, tweeting and writing reviews, they are on Facebook and all sorts of social networking sites keeping in touch with family and friends.
Papworth says, “Retirees and residence of nursing homes are not watching sport or playing bingo any more. Across the USA nursing homes are installing computers. And the trend is coming here.”
The 50s-60’s demographic is also a strong and developing user group with Boomers and people with a good disposable income on their hands involving themselves in all manner of on-line social groups including websites that sponsor articles and films by getting their communities to put in $1 each person. One such website involved in philanthropy raised a a million dollars for a struggling immigrant family. Such sites also support the arts, fine journalism and recording artists.
The great news comes from Psychiatrist and researcher Norman Doidge who wrote the bestseller The Brain that Changes Itself. The more we use parts of our brain that have previously been dormant (i.e as we learn new technology and computer skills), the faster we grow neurons back. Reinventing our brains keeps us young and is known to stave off degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimers. Armed with this recent scientific fact, Baby Boomers and Gen Xer’s are rushing back to study adult education courses in droves. I myself, at a much more tender age – of course! – have gone back to university to learn to use new technology and multi-media, doing a Masters in on-line journalism.
Journalist Iohana Georgescu in an on-line publication called metrolic.com noted that a recent study from Pew Research Center has discovered that the number of US adults of all ages interested in social networks nearly doubled in two years to 61 percent.
Onwards we Life Changers push into the terrifying realms of new technology and multi media. We don’t want to lose our marbles. Although I’d have to say that spending too much time talking to family (on-line or off) is the quickest way to lose one’s mind that I know.
Have you embraced new technology? Let me know how you find it