blog3More and more retirees are turning to social media and the internet to make it easier to manage their day to day lives, through online bill pay, automatic prescription refills, investment management, researching doctors, medication, travel destinations, retirement communities, and more. A recent MediaBistro infographic shows that 40% of seniors are “going social” to connect with family and old friends, 30% to share photos, 20% for social gaming, and 10% for contests and games that might have fun prizes.

There’s undoubtedly more reasons than ever for older generations to take advantage of everything the web has to offer, especially as more and more retirees are leaving the workforce with computer skills gained on the job. It’s no surprise that as the internet has crept into the lives of people at every age, seniors would also find its convenience irresistible. The web has everything from books to TV shows to ways to video chat– making it easy to keep up with the grand kids, friends, family, and all your favorite entertainment, all from one computer, tablet, or smartphone.

While it’s true that seniors still view the internet differently than younger generations, they increasingly accept its ubiquity and see it as a useful tool that can increase independence. Especially for seniors who live alone or far from friends and family, rather than in a close-knit retirement community, it can be especially important for them to have access to the many services the internet can provide. While the internet can never replace real-life connections and communication or the support of a caring community, it definitely helps many seniors maintain relationships and manage their lives with a few strokes of the keyboard in a way that was impossible just ten years ago.

As Christmas approaches, consider helping a senior in your life stay connected. Perhaps purchase a computer or tablet for them as a gift, or find a class they can take in their area that will give them the skills they need to get started. It could also be a wonderful way to spend some one on one time together, setting up a Facebook account, showing him or her how to use it, or going through old photos to scan and upload to Facebook. You’ll love having another way to get in touch and be more in tune with one another’s every day lives. You can also have peace of mind knowing that your loved one has another way to connect to the world, take care of everyday business, make friends, and get involved in the community. There’s so much for seniors to do online, there’s no reason not to give the gift of digital literacy this year.