Befriending Grandma: Social Media’s Newest Demographic

A new study shows that the largest growing demographic on Facebook is… grandma and grandpa.

Today, an article, entitled “Older Adults Nearly Double Social Media Presence [STATS]” appeared in Mashable & stated:

A new study from Pew Internet found that between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking site usage grew 88% among Internet users aged 55-64, and the 65 and older group’s social networking presence grew 100% in the same time frame.

Why do you think so many of our elders have recently joined social media sites?

I spoke with my own mom about it.  She said it was originally to see photographs that my sister was posting.

And, we've had some fun family exchanges.  While commenting between my siblings about our most recent gathering, my mom posted a memory I had forgotten. It was delightful to retrieve that memory!

Another time, when I mentioned the Buskers on the Pearl Street Mall (in Boulder, CO), my mom asked about them.  Instead of just telling her myself, I encouraged friends to tell about their favorite Busker.  It was a great conversation, because not only did I get to find out which street performers my friends recommend (Zip Code Man won hands down), I got to share with my mom a bit about my town, and about my friends.

But I get the sense she's also hearing too much about her kids and grandkids, that maybe she wishes she didn't know.

There's also those awkward moments of remembering its not just one person you are speaking with, but also all of their friends. Though I didn't speak to her about it, I recently saw a post that she commented on to one of my nephews.  After her sweet comment, one of his friends joked back, “Your gwamma woves you”.  Though I know it was in jest, it might have stung at them both.  I hope not!  But it's hard to have conversations with multiple generations and their friends, all at once.  The humor, alone, is different.

So, the question is, will this be a lasting trend?

Will our aging parents, who were hoping to keep better in touch with us, get disappointed or will we all find a way to connect better despite the age gaps.  And, if so, will it mean the younger generation either sensors what they write or embraces the wise elders into their online tribe.

There is a lot we can learn from folks who have been through all we are going through, but the question is does Facebook, and the other sites, provide a venue for extending conversations across the ages?  Or will it make the generation gab wider?

How do you feel about the idea of sharing your online world with your entire family?  Has it been helpful in making you closer, despite age/humor/location differences?  If you are over 65, have you felt welcomed?  Or maybe you use Facebook just to find old friends, and save the family connections for phone calls and in person visits.  Please share how you are using social media, across the age differences (no matter what age you are), by commenting below…

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