THE BLOG
11/18/2013 12:28 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Plugging Seniors Into the Present

My nightly routine is pretty similar to the average teenager's: finish studying, brush teeth, get in bed, open up laptop. A couple of nights ago, I was lying down and scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when I saw a post about DoSomething.org's Grandparents Gone Wired. It sounded interesting. I laughed at the name and the picture of two rockin' grandparents, clicked on the link, and saw what the cause was all about.

At the top of the page in big, bold letters, I saw the phrase, "PLUG SENIORS INTO THE PRESENT" and right under that, a chart showed that 47 percent of seniors do not actively engage with the Internet. I could not believe it. In this day and age there was no way that could be true. Curious, I walked to my living room where my older family members and friends were having their Monday Poker Night, and asked them if they had Facebook profiles. They all said something along the lines of "No, it looks too complicated" or "I don't go on the Internet, I just watch TV." It was not until then that I noticed the generation and knowledge gap.

That was when I realized what a great opportunity I had to help the people around me.

We live in world where modern technology is becoming more and more important every day, but here's the thing -- not everyone seems to agree with this fact. I looked at my iPhone, I looked at the old, beat up, flip phones on the table that everyone was sitting around. Just that image of those phones is why Grandparents Gone Wired is so important. Yes, old is great, but the fast-paced lives that we are living require more than that.

I understand that new things can be confusing and even intimidating to some people. So instead of constantly upgrading and updating, they stick with what they know. However, pretty soon, all of the older technology that people use will no longer be available, and at that point people will have to switch over anyways. Knowing that I could not get everyone in my living to go out and buy new phones, I thought at least I could get them connected to their friends and family on Facebook.

I sat down with nine people and helped them create accounts, upload at least one picture, add some friends -- the usual Facebook stuff that we all do -- and showed them that using the internet really is not as complicated as it seems. They had all big smiles on their faces, asking "that's it?" when they saw that communicating with people everywhere literally required two clicks on a mouse. It felt good knowing that I helped my loved ones begin to realize that they truly have the world at their fingertips.

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If you would like to learn how to get your family members set up on technology, visit DoSomething.org and Mentor Up's Grandparents Gone wired campaign at dosomething.org/grandparents.