The Best Gift for Aging Parents is… a Computer?

We love our technology; cell phone, laptop, wi-fi, Kindle, iPod—all of these things keep us socially connected, culturally informed, and satisfy our growing need for instant gratification. But there is an assumption that this technological savvy and appreciation stops once you reach a certain age. We expect teens, twenty and thirty-somethings, and baby-boomers to be “plugged in,” but assume that Facebook and Wikipedia won’t be of interest to the senior population.

Turns out, we couldn’t be more wrong.

Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times writes that “among older people who went online last year, the number visiting social networks grew almost twice as fast as the overall rate of Internet use among that group.” For home-bound or wheelchair-bound seniors the internet and social networking sites can be a sanity-saver, keeping them from loneliness and isolation.

This growing trend is being helped along by social networking sites such as MyWay Village, designed specifically for seniors, their friends and families. These online senior networking groups allow members of the physically challenged elderly population to keep in touch with distant family members, meet people from their own cohort all over the country, and reconnect with old friends and co-workers—all at their own pace.

These are the same things we all love about the social networking sites, young or old. It turns out our aging parents aren’t so different from our teenage kids, or even from ourselves. If you think that your parents (or even you yourself) are too old to catch on to the latest internet trend, reconsider. Everyone needs a community, even if that community is out in cyber-space.