When mobility restrictions and health concerns curb one’s love of traveling and exploring new places, harnessing the power of technology to stay in touch can mean the difference between isolation and engagement. As children, grandchildren and other family members and friends spread their wings and move away, older individuals often feel out of touch and alone.
Back in the days of settlers pulling up stakes and moving west, it was just a reality of life that they would likely never see their extended families again in their lifetimes. The occasional Pony express delivered letters were often the extent of communication and even those often traveled for months before being received. With the advancements in technology though, families and loved ones will never need to face those separations again.
Originally built for the younger generations, Social Media sites such as Facebook and Instagram are a grandparents’ dream. By ‘friending’ family and friends, they can catch updates on Little Susie’s piano recital and Billy’s football antics. With streaming apps like Facebook Live, they can see the events as they happen! VoIP (Voice over internet phones) make it free to dial anywhere in the world! Granddaughter stationed in Afghanistan? No problem. They can Facetime her and have a real ‘face to face’ conversation – for free.
Staying up to date on the various technological advancements can be intimidating – all those terms and acronyms – but it’s much easier than it seems. A quick primer:
Social Media – is anything on the internet that allows people to communicate with each other. For each social media site, a ‘page’ is created in the person’s name and then ‘shared’ with friends and family. Typical social Media sites include:
- Facebook – is the most popular social media communication system out there. People put pictures, stories, notes, invitations, messages on their ‘page’ and their friends and family can see them. It’s also a great place to reconnect with lost friends – type in their name and hit search! If they have a Facebook page, it should come up. It’s also a great place to meet others with similar interests. Just diagnosed with a food allergy? Join a Facebook group with the same allergy and learn how they cope with the allergy. World War II buff? Join a Facebook group (there are 1000’s of them) and swap stories.
- Instagram – is a photo sharing site. The days of taking a roll of film up to the drugstore, waiting for prints, going home and mailing them out are over. Pictures are instantly loaded onto Instagram pages and shared with friends/family.
- LinkedIn – is like Facebook but for business and professional folks. Conversations on LinkedIn are more commercial/business related.
- Snapchat – is a video sharing site where friends/relatives will post short videos (usually about 15-30 seconds). Snapchat videos are not permanent though. They can typically be viewed for 24 hours,and then they are deleted.
Security on the internet is always a concern. With so many stories in the news lately of this company being hacked or data from that company being stolen, there is a legitimate cause to be concerned. A great rule of thumb: never post anything online that you wouldn’t post on the church bulletin board! Social media is like a coffee clutch, what is said there will be repeated, often! Never put any identifying information – such as phone numbers, addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers, etc., on any site, no matter how secure it may seem. If that simple rule is followed, then enjoying the expansive reach of the social media sites carries no risk.