Chicago Seniors make friends on Facebook

Social media or Web 2.0 took off with American college students and was distilled into the epitomal sharing site, Facebook. This Internet advent has been embraced by the young as an outgrowth of expression and communication. Boomers got into the game late but have become a big component of Facebook and other social media sites - Twitter and LinkedIn.

But the elderly can find social media to be daunting. In Wheaton, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, high school students are volunteering to bridge the generation gap by teaching the fundamentals of Facebook to older adults.

Wheaton North High School is holding a series of classes called Seniors4Seniors, at the Wyndemere Senior Living Community. Wyndmere Executive Director Erin Donaldson told Warrenville Press - "There's kind of a mystery that surrounds Facebook for some of them."

Ms Donaldson added, "We have other residents who are very active already with their own Facebook pages, but for those who weren't really in the fold, we thought this is a great opportunity for them — and for the seniors in high school — to give them experience working with this population."

Students have found teaching Facebook to residents to be a challenge. "The first couple of weeks they were really confused and didn't know what was going on, but now they're getting better and have more questions," student volunteer Kyle Gehling told the media source.

Sociological evidence is showing up demonstrating Internet use decreases symptoms of depression in older adults who are regular users.

Ms. Donaldson added: "From community perspective, we're going to try and support them and their Facebook adventures." She resumed, "We're even looking at maybe holding some additional sessions of classes."

Ms. Jean Pickering, social media director of Tektite Group — a Chicago technology and social media consulting company has lent a helping hand. She has created a manual to answer follow-up questions.

Teaching computer and social media skills to residents of Assisted Living and Continuing Care has become important to their lifestyles.