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Age Old Connections

When Sheela Bansal’s grandson Aarav opened a facebook account for the 65-year-old in November 2009,she was unaware of the impact it would have on her social life.

Written by ShevetaBhatia |
February 2, 2011 12:23:45 am

The elderly share their internet experience,from finding old friends to interacting with the youth

When Sheela Bansal’s grandson Aarav opened a facebook account for the 65-year-old in November 2009,she was unaware of the impact it would have on her social life. “From a world of isolation,I was transported to a place where I had unlimited friends. People wanted to talk to me and I was suddenly young again. It was like discovering a new me. I stopped taking medicines for depression and have become a sought after agony aunt. Now I discuss my recipes and share jokes,” she adds.

The resident of Sector 33 is not the only elderly making friends and pasting time online. Gone are the days when old age was accompanied by long boring hours at home. “Now there is no lonely moment. Besides,the net keeps one abreast with peers across the world,” says SC Dewan,60,a chartered accountant who has a facebook account. “Following the Oscar nomination of the movie The Social Network,the trend of logging on the net has caught on more,” he adds.

The opportunity to catch up with her school friends led 62-year-old Karnail Kaur to go online. “I had promised one of my friends that we will stay in touch,but then I got busy with family and job. Now that I am relativity free,I decided to find her… I knew that she was tech savvy and after two hours of searching on the internet I managed to track her. I found many other members of my group,” says Kaur. The retired school teacher got interested in social networking after reading a study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that stated that number of users on social networking sites aged 50 and above nearly doubled in the last year.

“When people retire or change careers,social networking groups help stay in touch,” says Anita Khosla Chadha,62,who met her school friends based in Darjeeling online,and later planned a reunion in Calcutta. “We met after 45 years,” she smiles.

For some others,it is a platform to make new friends. “I get an opportunity to connect with the youth. It gives me an insight into what they are thinking and helps me to remodel the education system accordingly,” says Neena Trehan,principal of Holy Child School. The 61-year-old was taught the nuances of the internet by her grandson. Sixty-year-old Bhushan Nanda,meanwhile,confesses that not a week passes without him updating photographs on the net. “I post pictures just about every second day. It is an excellent way for all family members to keep in touch,even when they have geographically dispersed lives,” says Nanda.

Cashing in on the trend are product providers who keep in mind the special needs of the elderly while designing products. Viral Oza,head activation media and online marketing,Nokia India,gives the example of one touch shortcuts to networking sites on the mobile phone. “With more youngsters opting to study abroad,it becomes a natural choice for seniors to log on to networking sites.

Besides,it is a convenient means to communicate for those who may be home-bound due to health reasons,” says Oza.

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