With Thanksgiving a mere 36+ hours away (30 of which might be spent in a ticket line or sitting on a runway or hoping the traffic finally gets moving), we are all thinking about re-connecting to family and old friends. That we do so via social networking platforms has become the assumption among the Millennials and the Gen-Xers, whether in the holiday season or not. The social networking demands of these generations encourage them to keep up with the latest technologies as well – not a bad thing for the economy.
What happens to the previous-generation phones and laptops as younger Americans buy the latest-and-greatest? One thing that happens to them is they become ‘hand-me-ups’.
Younger people are well aware of the ‘hand-me-down’ clothes, bedrooms, sports equipment… that their older siblings either outgrow or no longer use as they head off to college or (hopefully) a job. In tech terms, though, the movement is upward toward the older generations.
The LeadingAge.org online magazineabout many seniors in Morgantown, West Virginia who are enjoying the use of tech hardware from their children and grandchildren to stay in touch with those same children and grandchildren via the social networks: “I inherited a Kindle, an iPhone, a desktop computer and a laptop from my grandchildren,” says Luise Savage, 85. … “They give me their hand-me-downs, so I figure I’d better use them. I’m getting braver all the time.”
The anecdotal evidence in the LeadingAge story is borne out by research from the Pew Trust, whose researchers have been concentrating on the generational use of media over the last decade or so. In a 2010 report, one of the conclusions was this: “While the youngest generations are still significantly more likely to use social network sites, the fastest growth has come from internet users 74 and older: social network site usage for this oldest cohort has quadrupled since 2008, from 4% to 16%.”
Wi-Fi networks are becoming de rigeur ats and elder-care homes, because even GI-Generation residents want access to Facebook and email to keep up with their families across generations and across the country. As Baby Boomers move toward retirement, they will only push the expectations of network connectedness to their friend and families.
Multi-generational social networking: a lovely thought as we enter the holiday season and post our celebrations, party pics, and best wishes on our walls, in our tweets, or for our circles.