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ME Over-45 Crowd Becoming More Tech-Savvy

November 21, 2011

PORTLAND, Maine - More people 45 and older are trying to get connected through social networking, although they're not always sure how to do it - or even why they should. In Maine, which has the oldest average population age in the nation, it's an important issue.

Marsha Collier, the author of "Facebook and Twitter for Seniors" (one of the "Dummies" book series), says the best way to wade into social networking is slowly. Pick one pursuit, such as Facebook or LinkedIn - or even emailing or texting on a mobile phone - and learn that first, she says. She also suggests that younger people help their parents or grandparents create a blog.

"Anybody can set those up for someone older pretty easily. Then all they have to do is go there and click 'post.' They can post about their garden; they can post about their children. You'll be surprised - even if there's no response to the blog, it will give them a comfort factor from going onto the computer and typing a journal."

A new AARP survey confirms that social media is catching on among those over age 45 - and more than 40 percent say they learned it from their child or grandchild. Only one in 10 has a Twitter account, but most have had online video chats with faraway family or friends.

About 40 percent of the survey respondents said they think social networking is a waste of time. Collier says they're right, if they don't use it correctly. For those who are job-hunting, she points out that it's almost a necessity.

"I know of several people who were connected out of thin air, on LinkedIn, to get a job offer. Remember the days of headhunters, of having to go through classifieds? It's a whole new world if you're looking for a job."

Collier says even people who are hesitant to social-network will be more interested when they see all the friends and family members they can connect with, or when they realize they can make money selling things on eBay.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - ME