Inspirace je silou, která probouzí touhu po vlastní dokonalosti...
Inspirace je silou, která probouzí touhu po vlastní dokonalosti...


Within no time they were soon finding and reconnecting with old high school friends and co-workers

Within no time they were soon finding and reconnecting with old high school friends and co-workers

It became increasingly apparent that more than finding information, the engagement with their social networks and sense of renewed relevance was the most significant gain for older users. „It’s this kind of bigger sense of mattering, in the social world, if you will,“ Cotten explains. „You’re not just something that’s been pushed off to the wayside anymore. You still have consequence.“

Over the course of the eight weeks, 10 to 15 percent of the group went on to engage in more advanced technology like social networking, joining Facebook and Eons, an online community for the Boomer set. Several of the students created Facebook profiles during an office hour session, joining initially to keep in touch with family members.

„She’s a junior in college and I get to see all the things she’s doing — all the sorority things and such. It makes me feel about 80 years younger,“ she says. „And when I see what she says about her boyfriend and what’s she’s going to do, I can get on the telephone and say, ‚Don’t you do that!'“

Carol Boulding, a 79-year-old from Auburn, California, also finds herself using the site as a way to check up and be involved in her grandchildren’s lives. Not a participant in the UAB study, Boulding joined the network on her own five years ago, and says it’s been a real source of enjoyment. „I heard that family members were joining and I wanted to see what I was missing or not missing,“ she says. „It’s a healthy thing, emotionally. I feel connected, and so many old people feel isolated — I think it’s wonderful and just keeping it all working is good for my brain.“

Indeed, „keeping it all working“ and exercising the brain via digital technology is an increasingly popular area of research, with studies examining the use of brain games and consoles like the Nintendo Wii or even playing solitaire on the computer. Social networking is proving to be not just a way to exercise the mind, but a way to lift spirits and boost morale. But in order for older adults to get the full benefits of these platforms, companies need to understand the way in which older adults engage with these sites. Without making some accommodations to the specific needs of older adults, tech giants could be missing a huge market.

„Facebook, even Gmail — it’s ridiculous that they haven’t created easier user interfaces,“ says Cotten, who is planning on writing a Google grant that would help developers understand the specific aspects of the user interface that prove problematic for older adults. „There are a lot of small, niche companies out there who are [catering to older adults‘ needs]. They’re creating their own very basic email services, social networking sites, etc., with easier-to-use interfaces. Generations Online is one of those companies that have done that.“

In effect, they live up to their motto of being „devoted to Internet literacy and access for the paper generation;“ emails take on the visual appearance of postcards, while Outlook address books transform into rolodexes, helping users cross the digital divide

Generations Online simplifies the Internet for older adults, creating easy-to-use, intuitive interfaces for services like email and general Web surfing.

Now, Mathews can be more involved in the lives of her loved ones than ever before, using Facebook to check up on her great granddaughter

Dr. Joe Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab, says that social media and tech companies need to understand the differences in how the different generations use and benefit from their technology, and that the problem goes both ways. He says there aren’t enough groups in the senior community that understand the technology available and how it would be useful to them, and not enough groups engineering and making the technology that understands what older adults need and why it’s important.

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