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The Parent Trap, Part 4: It’s Al Gore’s Fault 11.04.2013

One of the most prevalent aspects of our society today is internet use. From the internet we get email, social media, and endless information right at our fingertips. This technology is rapidly changing society, but there is one demographic likely not participating in this change – your parents and grandparents.

According to Statista, an online statistics portal, 87% of people ages 18-64 use the internet. Only 48% of people 65 and older are users of the web. Further studies show that 62% of people over the age of 74 don’t even own a computer.

For many aging Americans, the main reason they don’t engage in the internet is that learning how to use the worldwide web can be difficult for them. They have to learn how to navigate the broad spectrum of websites and pages, and they have to adopt a new way of thinking when it comes to how the internet works. Because of their age, they have much more trouble taking this all in than younger generations.

Nevertheless, if your parents can devote the time and energy necessary to learn the system, it can have extensive benefits in several areas:

Brain function. Learning how to use the internet and then participating in web searches, social media, and even online games can help sharpen brain function and keep folks thinking on your toes.

Access to services. We can purchase just about everything we need without having to leave our homes! It’s all there for us, online. Using the web for shopping, banking, making appointments, and even ordering prescriptions can save you time and energy.

Keeping in touch with family. It is likely that all of us have friends and family that we don’t see as often as we did in the past. The internet allows us to contact our loved ones even if they live several states away. Today’s technology means a grandparent can see his/her grandchildren and great-grandchildren face-to-face, even over a long distance. Not only can we visit our families, we can also keep track of old friends we lost track of over the years. The internet, social media and Skype can make it possible to stay close to family and friends that are living far away from us. We can talk through online chats, see pictures and read status updates about what’s currently going on with those we love. We can experience real interaction through video chat and Skype. These internet tools can improve our emotional well being and help us feel closer to those we love.

Exploring the world. Many people want to travel but don’t have the means or the opportunity to do so. The internet can give us the chance to see and read about places anywhere in the world without having to leave the comfort of our home. We can experience different cultures while sitting on our sofa!

Staying current. Some of our parents might believe the world is passing them by because they have a hard time keeping up. They don’t have to feel out of touch. They can get all the current news on politics, celebrities, local and national events, and more at the click of a mouse. Not only can the internet help us keep up with our families, it can help us stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the world around us (for better or worse!) and help us avoid that “left-out” feeling.

Technology is continually changing and adapting. Right now companies are developing programs specifically catered toward the 65 and older age group – programs that will help our parents learn the ways of the web easily and quickly. So encourage your parents to engage with the internet. With your help, they’ll have a chance to explore a whole new world!

Coming next week, The Parent Trap, Part 5: The Biggest Loss