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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Floridians over 45 getting tech savvy    

THE VILLAGES, FL - They're trying to get connected, although they're not always sure how to do it - or why they should.

Social media use is catching on among among those over age 45, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project released by AARP. More than 40 percent of the respondents say they learned how to do it from a child or grandchild. Only one in 10 has a Twitter account, but most have had online video-chats with faraway family or friends.

AARP spokesman Doug Shadel says using social media can be valuable for keeping people less isolated as they age, and Floridians are catching on: half over the age of 45 are tuning in.

"A huge percentage of the people who are on a social networking site joined that social networking site within the last two years."

The survey also indicates more than 75 percent are concerned about online safety.

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

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

About 40 percent of the respondents think social networking is a waste of time, the survey found. However, even people who are hesitant to network online will be more interested when they see all the friends and family members with whom they can connect, Collier says, or when they realize they can make money selling things on eBay. 

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