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How seniors can conquer the Internet

January 16, 2014

Whether they're going online to read a favorite periodical or checking out the latest pictures of grandchildren on Facebook, a growing number of seniors are using the Web to connect with the rest of the world. More than half of seniors over the age of 65 use the Internet, according to the Pew Research Center. Rigo Saborio, director at the St. Barnabas Senior Center in Los Angeles, told PBS NewsHour that being online had the potential to assist in creating a healthy lifestyle for seniors, contributing to their overall well-being.

"It's going to have a profound impact on health, mental health, physical health, and financial health," he told the source.

There are several ways in which seniors can take advantage of all the Internet has to offer, including enrolling in courses to help assist in their basic understanding of the Web and boosting their presence on social media sites.

Finding resources
With the number of seniors online skyrocketing from 13 percent in 2000 to 53 percent in 2012, numerous resources have become available to assist older adults in their transition to the Web. Several centers, nonprofits and even local colleges offer courses specially designed to teach seniors how to navigate the Internet. Led by volunteers and technology experts, classes vary based on the level of participants.

From teaching seniors how to set up and manage email accounts to training them how to best use resource centers, such as bill payment or bank websites, these courses can be beneficial to those who are hesitant about embracing technology.

Saborio explained that using the Internet offered seniors a sense of freedom they were not able to previously enjoy, claiming that once they understand how to use it, they are more likely to interact with it on a daily basis.

Social media
Seniors engaging in social media have the opportunity to stay connected with family members and friends at just the click of a button. While the number of seniors online continues to rise, so too does the number of adults aged 65 and older taking advantage of those social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. According to recent findings from the Pew Research Center, 45 percent of online seniors are active on Facebook, up from 35 percent last year. They also accounted for more activity on LinkedIn and Pinterest, with 13 percent and 9 percent of seniors visiting these sites respectively. The social media site that saw the smallest number of older adults was Instagram, with just around 1 percent of online seniors claiming they use it.