COMPUTER users over 55 are the fastest growing group to sign up to social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace, which they use to connect with family and friends. The online community has responded by creating groups such as ”My grandma is on Facebook”, ”My granny is on Facebook and I love it” and ”Proud Nannas, Grandmas, Pas and Grandpas on Facebook” in recent months.Laurel Papworth, a social network expert, said: ”Senior citizens are time-rich and want to go where their grandchildren will go. ”From January 2009 we began to see this shift where senior citizens were signing up to Facebook. ”Anne-Marie Elias, of the NSW Council on the Ageing, said seniors were far more technologically savvy than previous generations.”We’re talking about the baby boomer generation, who have been in a working environment where they had a computer,” Ms Elias said.
”Facebook is a really great facility that enables senior members to keep in contact with their families and friends who may be overseas, or living next door. For the older generation, and particularly the immigrant population, Facebook is not just a networking tool but a tool to find your loved ones anywhere in the world.”Sirkka Duncan, 63, logs on to Facebook more than once a day, connecting with Finnish and Australian family members.”At first I was very apprehensive to use Facebook – it was like going down a dark alleyway,” she said.As a member of the Australian Seniors Computer Club Association, Ms Duncan has in the past six months instructed more than 300 seniors. One of her students is the association president, Nan Bosler, 75, who uses Facebook to keep in contact with her grandchildren.”Sirkka taught me how to use Facebook about six months ago,” Ms Bosler said. ”As a former teacher, one of my students found me and asked to be my friend. That was lovely.”