New York Library Introduces 'Facebook for Seniors' Classes

Category: Technology / Aug 15, 2012 6:32PM EDT

Seniors could soon be making new friends on Facebook thanks to New York libraries that offer "Facebook for Seniors" classes to help the elderly learn, or brush up, on their social network skills. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, seniors are a growing demographic, with more than half of U.S. adults 65 and older online.

For many elderly citizens, particularly those who live alone and far from their families, social networking sites offer new opportunities to stay in touch, share photos, make new friends or to reacquaint with old ones. The hands-on classes are popular and attract seniors of all ages. His oldest student was a 97-year-old woman. "They are more tech savvy than they think they are," said Soule after teaching a class of five seniors, two men and three women. "They tend to be unsure of themselves, I find, and they need reinforcement and some tips about how to use it better."

After explaining the concept of "friending" and responding to requests on Facebook, Soule suggested that 76-year-old student Rosalind Licht accept a friend request after she recognized the person. Although most of the students were enthusiastic and eager to learn, librarians do encounter the occasional skeptic. One woman said she didn't want to find anybody, or to be found. Joshua Soule started the free classes and also teaches courses about Google, eBooks, basics of the computer and how to use mobile devices.