Older Adults Show Biggest Growth in Social Networking Use

The number of older adults using social networking tools is quickly expanding, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. Social networking use among Internet users aged 50 and older nearly doubled from 22 percent in April 2009 to 42 percent in May 2010, making them the fastest growing segment of users. In contrast, the number of users aged 18 to 29 only grew 13 percent.
AGE is among the increasing number of organizations that are bolstering their social media presence, recognizing that more and more adults are turning to this platform to stay informed and get connected. AFA offers news related to Alzheimer’s disease, AFA programs and events, and caregiving tips via its Facebook and Twitter accounts. Become an AGE fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to be in the know.

CNN: Older users flocking to Facebook, Twitter

Facebook is not just for kids anymore!
Facebook is not just for kids anymore!
Twitter and Facebook aren’t just for your (grand) kids! Check out this great article from CNN that highlights the changing demographics of social media. We at AGE already knew this, though, with our ever-popular SeniorNet Facebook classes! If you’re in the Central Texas area, check out our next class schedule here. Next classes on Facebook will be this October!

(CNN) — Nancy Ehrlich was nearing 50 and frustrated, teaching at her small Pennsylvania town’s elementary school with colleagues who didn’t share her love of technology.

Then, last summer, she found Twitter.

Now, Ehrlich — who turns 51 in a few weeks — barely qualifies for the fastest-growing club on the Web. The number of internet users over 50 who use social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have nearly doubled in the past year, according to a study released Friday.

“It definitely has changed my whole life — that’s how significant Twitter is to me,” said Ehrlich, who now regularly chats with educators around the world and helps host a weekly forum for them on the micro-blogging site. “At first, I didn’t really get it. But I just kept watching it and, before you knew it, I was hooked.”

Between April 2009 and May, the percentage of internet users 50 and up who said they use social-networking sites has risen from 22 percent to 42 percent, according to the survey by the Pew Research Center.

Respondents 65 and older reported a 100 percent increase, while those between 50 and 64 jumped 88 percent.

By comparison, the number of users from 18-29 who said they use networking sites rose a much more meager 13 percent.

For anyone who logs on to sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the increase in older users is probably pretty obvious.

Read more here at CNN.com

Technology: “My Day on Chat Roulette”

The “Bits & Bytes” Column by Chris Leto has relocated from the Senior Advocate to the AGE of Austin blog!

Chatroulette.com is the newest crazy sweeping the world. Created by a seventeen year old in Russia; it is a program that allows you to use your webcam to chat in real time with people all over.

What is a webcam? It’s a camera that you can attach to your computer that allows you to see others and be seen yourself. They are fairly cheap. I was able to pick up mine for under $30 at Best Buy. Your webcam can also include a microphone and if you are interested in getting a webcam, then make sure it also has a microphone included inside.

Once signed onto chatroulette, the bottom of your screen shows you as you are seen by your camera. So make sure that you don’t have anything in your teeth and your hair looks nice. On the top part of the screen is where someone else with a webcam will appear.

You can then speak to each other using the microphone or if one of you don’t have a microphone, then you can type out your questions and answers.
The roulette part concerns who you are chatting with. If you don’t want to chat with that person or they don’t want to chat with you, then either of you can hit the next button and be randomly sent to the next person.

The program was created so that people all over the world could instantly connect with each other. The seventeen year old who created the program wanted to talk to other teens in America, England, Germany, all over the world.

News organizations caught onto it because of the potential exposure for minors. Chatroulette doesn’t ask for any age verification. Someone who is twelve years old can sign on just as easily as someone who is fifty. The first time I signed on the first person I was connected with was a shirtless older man who was just dancing in place. Obviously looking for attention and a pretty bad dancer, I clicked next. After a few moments I was connected with two women who quickly took off their shirts. I just as quickly hit next. The next few people were of various ages and races and either they clicked next or I did.

Finally I was connected to a young man who quickly held up a sign that said “DON’T HIT NEXT!” So, I didn’t and waited for him to speak. He is twenty three and from Moscow, Russia. He was just in the mood to meet a new person and was desperate for conversation. His English was very good and for the next hour we talked about sports, politics, his desire to come visit America, my desire to see Russia. We talked about the differences and similarities between our two peoples and what our favorite foods were.

After awhile the conversation winded down and it was time for me to start making dinner. We exchanged email addresses and hoped that we would be able to talk again real soon. It was a great conversation that made me want to quickly sign back on and meet someone else new and from somewhere outside of the country.

I think chatroulette is a fantastic program and plan to use it again when I have the time. While you do have to be cautious of the types of people who are online and make sure you don’t give out any important information about yourself (full name, address, phone, credit card…), I think the adventure of just being able to click on a button and be able to start chatting with anyone in the world is an awesome idea.

If you are a parent or grandparent I would be careful about letting anyone under the age of 18 use the program. While it is a wonderful educational tool for a person to be exposed to other people’s ideas and cultures, there is also a great chance that they will be exposed to things that have nothing to do with education or culture.

Technology doesn’t move backwards and using webcams to chat with people is here to stay. Instead of shying away from this technology, embrace it and enjoy it.