Have you ever heard someone say they are too old to figure out how to use a computer? As a 22 year old, I find it hard to imagine life without a computer, since I’ve always had one in the house since about 3rd or 4th grade. I know we were one of the last families in the neighborhood to get one. My brother, sister and me were definitely brought up in a different age than my parents. While my mom became accepting to the computer, my dad says, “computers are the end of the word as we know it!” Asking my dad to find the power button on a computer is impossible, which is why I was flabbergasted to learn that my 15 year old brother taught him how to text.
While my dad is more than a decade and a half away from becoming a senior citizen, a new survey recently showed that seniors enjoy using the internet, and some of their favorite sites include Facebook and YouTube. Nielsen estimates that today nearly 17.5 million seniors are active on the Internet, which is up from 2004, when it was estimated only 11.3 million seniors used the internet.
“The over 65 crowd represents about 13% of the total population and with this increase in online usage, they are beginning to catch up with their offline numbers,” says Chuck Schilling, research director for Nielsen online. “Looking at what they’re doing online, it makes sense they’re engaged in many of the same activities that dominate other age segments – e-mail, sharing photos, social networking, checking out the latest news and weather – and it’s worth noting that a good percentage of them are spending time with age-appropriate pursuits such as leisure travel, personal health care and financial concerns.”
The most visited site for seniors is Google, which isn’t much of a shock since it is the most visited site on the web. Close to 8 million seniors are using Facebook, the social networking site which was originally intended for college students. They are using these sites to keep up to date with their families, to share photos, and to update their status. I do find it a little hard to imagine my grandma updating her status, or poking someone, but more power to them.
YouTube followed Facebook in the most visited sites by seniors. It makes sense too. Since many of us (youngin’) post videos on YouTube, it’s a great way for grandparents to see their grandchildren and see what they are up to. I know my grandma watched my YouTube videos, when I was traveling around South America to see what I was up to. It’s a great way to see what’s happening around the world.
Twitter sadly didn’t make it onto the list, but that’s not very surprising. However, there is a company that is helping seniors tweet, even if they don’t own a computer. Celery, a New York based company, is dedicated to help those who don’t use computers, particularly seniors, to keep them updated on sites like Twitter and through e-mail.
This week, Dorothy Miller, an 80 year old grandmother of Troy, NY spoke with WTEN-TV and explained how the service actually works. All she needs to do is hand write out what she wants to tweet, in 140 characters or less of course, and then she faxes her “tweet” to Celery who posts her update for her. In return she can also get replies and color photos faxed back to her.
“I don’t usually write to my daughter because she talks too much, takes up too much of my time,” Miller joked. “She can read my Twittering and see what her mother is doing and knows I am ok. And I enjoy this. It has given me communication with my family, which I didn’t really have before.”
Just goes to show you, you don’t have to be young and saavy to use the web.