Social media involves a learning curve, especially if you didn’t grow up using it. Yet, increasingly seniors are realizing the power of online communication to reinvent their lives, communicate with family members and learn more about the world around them—to remain outgoing and social—rather than withdrawing.
Kerry Rego, a social media and technology consultant in Santa Rosa, regularly encounters seniors eager to discover and embrace what technology has to offer. She witnesses many instances when the “light bulb goes on,” and her older students realize the world is at their fingertips.
One female student, looking to expand her sphere of influence after launching an encore career with a nonprofit, experienced an ‘aha moment’ when discussing how to personalize a LinkedIn profile. “It was like a nut cracked open, and she understood how she could use social media to pursue her dreams, to fulfill her inner desires. She really saw it not as technology, but as a tool like anything else that will do her bidding,” said Rego.
Still another, older client, was trying to build a stronger relationship with her granddaughters after her daughter—their mother—passed away. “She didn’t have a very close relationship with her granddaughters, but as a result of them losing their mother, she was really reaching out trying to be a part of those girls’ lives to be there for them,” said Rego.
Texting turned out to be the key for them to connect and share special moments. “What was really cool for them was telling each other secrets and stories and communicating all day long,” said Rego.
According to Rego, many seniors in her classes actually seem less self-conscious than their younger counterparts about exposing their inexperience and asking for help. “[Reaching out through social media] is really exciting for people over the age of 65. It allows them to be who they are for the first time in their lives and to ‘find their people.’ They’re also learning more about themselves in the process, and becoming engaged more in society.”
And perhaps best of all is social media’s ability to extend the world of someone who no longer has the physical capability to meet new friends but retains the desire to reach out. “I just love seeing someone in their 70s or 80s still contributing to intellectual conversations, driving social change, and impacting people on the internet, even when they have physical disabilities. We are no longer bound by our bodies, and it’s exciting to see seniors figure that out.” she said.