Today social networking sites like Facebook are a perfect option for senior citizens living alone to reconnect with old friends and family. (File photo)
It is amazing to see the enthusiasm and apprehension of the elderly, who are learning how to use email, log in to Facebook and spend more time on the Web. The internet has visibly helped them bridge the distance and bring their friends, children and grand children closer to them with a click of the mouse.
Research clearly shows that the time spent by seniors on the Internet has actually increased by 11 percent in the last five years. However, this new adventure doesn’t just end on the walls of Facebook, Twitter or Skype helping them connect with their loved ones many continents away but has strengthened the bonding with them. For Asha Sen, a retired teacher, five hours a day online isn’t nearly enough. ‘’Severe Arthritis hampers my movement and the crowded roads compel me to think of something interesting to do at home. My seven year old grandson taught me to play Farmville. My 100 odd friend list is in the age group 7-20 and that keeps me healthily occupied for at least 5-6 hours a day. I have earned myself a tag of favourite grandmother,’’ she added happily.
‘’Senior citizens are expected to go to temples, stay out of way, and talk about religious things. I don’t do any of these. Facebook has opened a brand new world for me. I am a part of many communities and share my opinions on the current issues at the same time, reading what others feel. This has boosted my confidence and I do not hesitate to voice my opinions in front of youngsters who have started to take me seriously,’’ shared a retired bank officer Manoranjan Sethi. The busy schedule, erratic timings and the stress of work pressure leaves no energy for healthy conversations at the dinner table, which till late, was the normal time for sharing of thoughts.
As PK Rao, a retired professor puts in, ‘‘both my children are working in different parts of the country and visits have become less frequent due to heavy work load. But because of Facebook, both me and my wife chat with each of our grand children and children regularly. Initially, my wife, a complete novice at computers, was apprehensive but today she has become an expert and has opened her own Facebook id and even shares her coveted recepies on the site which has gained her new friends.’’ Old age many a time lessens the mobility of people and evening walks and general interaction becomes restricted. For such age groups Facebook has been a boon in disguise.
For those who have deterioratoing health conditions like arthritis or weight problems, apart from reading, gardening or watching television, the most indulged activity to pass time remains the computer.
‘’Facebook has helped me reconnect with my old friends and we share our problems and concerns through it. My husband loves to play City Ville, Bingo cards and Bubble safari and I get to watch my serials during that time without disturbance,’’ shared Sumana Kar happily.-