What's This Thing Called "Facebook?"
What's all the fuss about Facebook and social networking media?
Facebook is a social networking sensation. With more than 800 million active users, it's been called the third largest country in the world. Facebook is interactive, meaning you can respond to what you read and connect with people who share your interests. The program is nimble, allowing for easy updates and two-way communication.
Older adults are one of the fastest growing groups of Facebook users. Aging and Disability Services (ADS) uses Facebook to stimulate discussion about aging issues and promote aging programs and services.
Following are two Facebook pages ADS created and maintains, which provide easy access to news clips, announcements, and commentary:
- The Mayor's Council on African American Elders (MCAAE) Facebook page (and Web site) support their advocacy for improved quality of life for African American residents of Seattle and King County who are 60 years of age and older.
- Silver & Gold—Seattle & King County, ADS' Facebook page, was created earlier this year to promote healthy aging and increase the number of healthy years that Seattle and King County residents can expect to enjoy.
Both pages are partially visible without a Facebook account (see for yourself—click the links above). But if you sign up for a Facebook account and then click the "Like" button at the top of each page, information from the page will post to your "home page," making it easy to read on a regular basis. Only you can see what's on your home page; however, if you comment on the posts, then everyone who "likes" that particular Facebook page can read your comment and respond. On Silver & Gold, you can even post your own Web links and photos that promote healthy aging.
In addition to Facebook, ADS offers a extensive Web site, a Web portal, and an e-newsletter:
- Aging King County, the Aging and Disability Services (ADS) Web site, provides a broad range of important information, including an overview of the Area Agency on Aging, Area Plan on Aging, trends, strategic initiatives and events for seniors and adults with disabilities, including agendas and background information for monthly Advisory Council meetings.
- Encore, a Web portal to hundreds of local, regional and national resources for people age 50 and older, was created several years ago in collaboration with the Seattle Department of Information Technology (DoIT). DoIT maintains Encore links, while the sites you access via Encore are maintained by other organizations. In that way, ADS and the City of Seattle are able to connect older adults to valuable information offered by hundreds or even thousands of different organizations.
- Seniors Digest is an electronic newsletter—undoubtedly you are reading it online right now, unless you or a friend printed this article. Every month, the ADS Advisory Committee sends articles of interest to older adults and adults with disabilities. When you receive your e-mail message from the Advisory Council chair, you are able to forward the message to friends and acquaintances who are interested in aging and disability issues; hence, it provides an opportunity for social networking.
Sometimes the best way to learn about technology is to jump in and explore! Click on the links above, and other links provided in Seniors Digest every month, and see the wealth of information at your fingertips now. It's growing every day! And please—feel free to share!
Do you use other types of social media, like blogs and Twitter, or smart phone apps that support healthy aging? What's your favorite? Please feel free to e-mail ADS planner Irene Stewart with your thoughts about the role these tools play in supporting older adults and adults with disabilities.