Grandparents on Facebook

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.

Photo: ‘Older Life Changers Embracing 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 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



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11 Responses to Grandparents on Facebook

  1. Paris Dean 17 April 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Last week I just went in there and told my boss I didn’t want to work 5 days a week, from now on I will only be working 2.

    Now I have 2/5ths of my income tops and cant afford anything. Is there a step 2?

  2. Ruth Ostrow 14 April 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Thanks all, Jim didn’t mean to sound patronising. And I am not exactly a young person myself 🙂

  3. Jim 14 April 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Frankly, its a bit patronising to talk about “old people” taking up using computers, as though its surprising. This is a “young person’s” view, for whom the world started at or around the time they were a child. I guess at nearly 65, I’m classed as an “old person”. However, I was using computers from probably before our esteemed columnist was born – and programming them in machine language, a stress and discipline quite unknown to those who use computers recreationally nowadays. And if we didn’t like how the operating system was set up, we’d write our own one. So please, “young people”, get a bit of perspective.

  4. Carissa 14 April 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Increasingly Social media is playing a huge role in allowing the residents of our Retirement Village to stay in contact with loves ones and friend’s once forgotton.

    Late last year saw the launch of BallyCara into the weird and wonderful world that is Social Media with the installation of our Blog, Facebook page and Twitter account.

    Having these features not only has provided us with the opportunity to display our range of services to a broader community but has also given our Residents, their families and friends the chance to see what we are doing here at BallyCara and also provides another medium for feedback and suggestions.

    Many family members have commented on how they love seeing the photos of their grandmother at our events on Facebook and almost every afternoon on my way to the car I pass a Resident on the communal computer trying to remember their hotmail password, or trying to see whether there is a website for the school they went to 60 years ago!

  5. Gordon Board 14 April 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    When my granddaughter at age 10 gave her answer to this riddle written 10 thousand years ago (Epic of Gilgamesh) ‘you spawn of a fish who knew no father hatchling of terrapin and turtle,wh sicked no mothers milk.
    Her answer’A TEST TUBE BABY’ inspired me to write my first ever book JESUS THE LAST NEPHILIM ISBN:978-1-84748-797-1.
    It is the birth of Jesus..but not quite as we know it…

  6. Ruth Ostrow 30 March 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    Yes, Merle, and get her to click on the links in my story. There are now senior citizen groups which distribute “how to Skype, Facebook and Google” pamplets to nursing homes around USA. Now that’s gettin’ jiggy wid it

  7. Merle 29 March 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    I wish my mother could get her head around any technology… the thought of a computer is terrifying for her… I will have to show her your piece

  8. Meredith 29 March 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Loved this

  9. Meredith 25 March 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    fine art and architecture

  10. Ruth Ostrow 25 March 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Thanks Meredith what are you studying?

  11. Meredith 25 March 2011 at 11:48 pm #

    You make me laugh Ruth! I have just gone back to university myself and can see the lecturers and tutors pulling their hair out. Funny because in some areas I am so advanced due to life experience, but in others I need to be baby-walked through the processes. The brain does deteriorate over time. Hope Norman Doidge is right about the plastic brain and I can regrow some neurons. I need all the help I can get! Meredith

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