Older adults in Los Gatos are taking part in a unique course aimed at opening doors to new friends and experiences, lifelong learning and intergenerational connections.
The four-week social media class, Getting Connected, is being offered by Signal Hill, a North Carolina-based leadership and communications consultancy, to residents of
Dorothy Lee, a resident of the continuing care retirement community, says the course is helping her discover how simple it is to use social networking.
"I've been intrigued by comments about this easy way of keeping in touch with loved ones," says Lee. "The class shows how easy it is to use social media. So many friends surface and are rediscovered."
Halfway through the course, Lee says she is tackling the once daunting digital divide with ease.
"My children, who work for computer firms, used to tease about my computer illiteracy and reluctance," she says. " 'Mom isn’t even on Facebook,' they'd say. Now they’ve discovered that Mom is on Facebook and Twitter and has lots of friends to keep her busy. I'm glad I'm taking the classes."
In developing the course curriculum, Signal Hill drew from its expertise in mature media. With a 13-year history of working with older adults and a client base that includes national leaders in senior living and health care, Signal Hill began the course in North Carolina and has taken this next step of expansion by conducting its second set of courses in California.
The course is an outreach component of Senior Correspondent, Signal Hill’s new media venture driven entirely by the stories of older adults.
The two-year-old Senior Correspondent has given thousands of older adults a digital platform from which to capitalize on the power and possibilities of the Internet.
Daniel Pryfogle, Signal Hill’s principal and creative director, says contrary to popular belief, older Americans are keenly aware of social networking and very much want to be a part of it. It’s learning how to access it that can pose problems, he says.
According to a recent Pew Research Institute poll, “As of February 2012, one third (34 percent) of Internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18 percent do so on a typical day.”
“Older adults are the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S. in terms of social media, but what we are finding is that social media is not as intuitive for seniors,” says Pryfogle. “Our course keeps reorienting them to basic tools they can use again and again, and it gives them a common language and foundation they can build on.”
Nelson Rodrigues, the director of resident services at The Terraces of Los Gatos, says that he and the class participants appreciate Signal Hill’s nuanced approach.
“This class allows our residents to get connected with distant friends and relatives that they would not be able to regularly unless they were on Facebook," says Rodrigues. "They love seeing pictures of these friends and family. They are enjoying and learning so much in this class.”
Mallory Flynn is content manager for Signal Hill. She wrote this article as a contributed piece for Los Gatos Patch.