Why in the world do kids sit on benches right next to each other and madly push buttons? They’re talking in text to the person sitting to their left much of the time. It is beyond our understanding as seniors. We used to actually look one another in the face and speak words out loud. No more. We’re in the age of technology and if you want to keep up with things, you’d better learn what the web is all about, how to use that personal computer and how you can have some fun using it too.
The concept is we use the internet, the worldwide web, to communicate in a wide variety of ways. We can also be entertained one way using some of the sites we find online. There are several good books for seniors to help get started with the internet and its mysteries: Buy one of these to get you started:
Social Networking for Seniors in Easy Steps by Anne Sparrowhawk
Facebook and Twitter for Seniors for Dummies by Marsha Collier
Both of these titles take you step by step with picture support to set up your own accounts on any of the major social networking sites. You’ll learn how to create your profile and add privacy settings. You’ll learn about ways to connect with persons you already know and how to find forums and communities of people with like interests. You’ll learn how to block anyone you don’t want to communicate with and how to use all of these wonderful internet sites to enrich your life. Here is a little introduction to the most popular networking sites. Maybe one of them will work for you:
Facebook: Facebook is a place to interact with friends. You post your status, that is what is happening to you or what you’re thinking about or doing at the moment. You can ask questions and get answers from your friends. You can celebrate something you’re happy about and get immediate responses. You can say you’re having a bad day and get near-instantaneous encouragement. It’s a place to add photos and video and you can link to any other site you want to share with the friends who read your updates. You can keep in touch with family members, friends and anyone you ask to be your friend. It’s a lot of fun.
MySpace: MySpace is another social networking site that began in 2003. It has a young membership and focuses on music, television, movies, celebrity information and games. It was purchased by Justin Timberlake in 2011. It has lost membership in recent years as other networking sites have joined the competition.
Twitter: Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send text messages of up to 140 characters. These cryptic messages, how r u? are called tweets. Twitter was begun in 2006 and is widely used today. You can send and receive short messages in real time. Twitter is used for communication between friends and is also used as advertising for any number of products or services.
YouTube: YouTube is a video sharing website which was begun in 2005 by three former employees of Paypal. Users can upload, view and share video clips of all kinds. The company is now owned by Google. Type in YouTube and when the site opens type in a key word and you can find videos on virtually any topic.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the largest networking site in the world for those in business of some type. The idea is to meet people you already know in your particular field and then through those friends, meet others for networking purposes. You will create a profile of your personal business information and then learn to know others who have similar business interests.
Pandora: Pandora is a free personalized radio service that will help you create a musical playlist that is all of your favorites. You begin by selecting your favorite singers, songs and musical genres. Then give further feedback and voila! You’ll have a music playlist suited to your unique tastes.
Hulu: Hulu is a website of ad-supported video of television and movies and other entertainment offerings. It is free to the user. Many companies make their products available to Hulu including Fox, ABC, NBC and MGM. You enjoy the freedom to watch television and movie offerings in your own time frame and anywhere your personal computer can go.
Pinterest: Pinterest is a relatively new website where people develop boards of pictures related to a theme. You might find pictures of food items you love, or home décor ideas to save or you may want to advertise products you wish to sell and post them for viewing. You take your interests and “pin” them to your boards. You’re bound to find ideas and recipes and books and a million other things you enjoy on Pinterest. You can follow friends’ boards and others can follow yours.
Skype: Skype is a perfect internet option for seniors who want to keep in touch with family members and friends around the world. Skype is a software application which allows live voice and picture phone calls to be made via the internet. It is either free or very inexpensive to make calls anywhere in the world. And how wonderful it is to see your grandchildren or your best friend live anywhere in the world.
SagaZone: SagaZone is a social networking site in Europe for the over-fifty crowd. It has a wealth of information from news, to movie reviews to music information. It has forums on many topics and is a great place for older adults to find friends and fun and information.
Creating Your Own Blog: Blogging is a great way to express yourself. Blogs are easily created online with minimal knowledge of computers and how they work. WordPress is one place to build your own blogsite using one of their templates for color, layout and design.
As you can see there are more and more social networking choices all the time. What is the new thing today, may be old hat tomorrow. Start with one site that sounds interesting to you and before you know it, you’ll be able to find your way around all of the options. Social networking is fun and a great way to stay in touch with people. The biggest criticism of social networking sites is that they take up a lot of time. That’s because they’re so much fun. Look at the links below for lists of many other websites of interest to seniors.