Like many older people, Paula Rice of Island City, Ky., has grown isolated in recent years. Her four grown children live in other states, her two marriages ended in divorce, and her friends are scattered. Most days, she does not see another person.
But Ms. Rice, 73, is far from lonely. Housebound after suffering a heart attack two years ago, she began visiting the social networking sites Eons.com, an online community for aging baby boomers, and PoliceLink.com (she is a former police dispatcher). Now she spends up to 14 hours a day in online conversations.