Seniors and Online Social Networking Trends

The great divide for technology-dependent youth and baby boomers is evident in many industries, domains, and situations today. People who grew up with computers and internet capabilities pick up the trends and new ways of communication faster and easier than traditionalists who grew up with snail mail, wire telephones, and perhaps a brief introduction to e-mail. Today, however, the trends online are taking on new and exciting growth opportunities across generations. Seniors, or the aging baby boomer age group of 50 or older, are finding online networking sites to be just as productive, if not more engaging, than traditional methods!

Communication with loved ones and friends is one avenue of happiness and well-being for all ages. Although today’s fast-paced world would have you believe that human communication is becoming limited in scope, the contrary is evident with the masses of online hubs, growth, and social networking domains. As the social networking era continues to grow exponentially, more people are finding it easy to locate, find, interact with, and maintain logs of communication with others. Address books, instant messaging, blogs, video and photo sharing, and publishing independent websites are common online activities. Regardless of talent and skill, connecting with people online is becoming a part of day-to-day culture.

Dating sites such as Match.com, and ‘people locators’ such as Classmates.com first introduced the world to the possibilities of finding and locating people using a system of filters and direct search. For today’s aging baby boomers, dating sites are growing in popularity in addition to group forums, discussion groups, blogs. Enthusiastic and witty websites featuring autobiographies, day-to-day commentary, and perhaps some much-needed wisdom are cropping up in retirement communities and can encourage both talent and a personal expression. According to iMedia Connection, (‘The Score – Seniors Online Nov. 2005) “This growth within the senior segment is reflected on the web. In September 2005, 43.1 million persons aged 50 or older were online, up 21 percent from 35.8 million in September 2004.”

Without the weekly visit from family and friends, the elderly and those in a nursing home often have limited contact. These groups may find peace, strength, and solace in creating an online space to connect with others and make sense of their past. The appeal of creating a memoir or scrapbook of a life during retirement is a common cultural trend, and staying in touch with friends and loved ones besides the telephone or visits is possible with the growth in online networking sites and social hubs. MyFamily.com serves as a platform to create an online family site for pictures, news, e-mail, and trace genealogy roots on a family tree.

Searching for health-related subjects and articles is another popular online activity; sites that can relay advice, mentoring, and professional opinions give users a chance to understand their health and conditions better. WEbMD.com offers extensive and easy-to-search information, articles, updates, and interactive components. Personal hobby sites such as Flick’r, can also offer family album maintenance. Instant messaging within a family’s network, and social hubs that promote a person’s hobbies and interest such on Yahoo! discussion groups or Google Groups, are all great ways for the aging baby boomers to stay in touch and informed. Growing old is a process, and today’s technology can enhance or create some unique possibilities for thousands of aging groups to stay in touch with their past, enjoy the present, and learn about the future!

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