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More Grandparents Connecting With Grandkids Through Social Media

Use of online communication growing among 65+

Sands, a retired computer instructor at Metropolitan Community College's Blue River campus, offers these tips for people who worry about online security:

  • Don't share personal information, such as bank account numbers or Social Security numbers.
  • Don't answer personal questions.
  • Don't accept a "friend" request from anyone you don't know.
  • Review the privacy options on Facebook and other online services.

AARP Missouri is training about 80 volunteers to use Facebook.

Anita Parran, AARP Missouri spokeswoman, said when the volunteers create their own Facebook pages, it helps build a network that allows AARP to quickly get the word out about activities or issues.

The first barrier for some older folks, Sands said, is wariness of the machine itself. "You have to take the fear out of getting on a computer. They're not going to break it."

Shrinking the world

MaryJo Simmons, 74, of Kansas City, said she uses Facebook to keep up with her children. The semiretired nurse and teacher said she also relies on Facebook to stay connected to people she's met in her travels around the world.

For an aging population, Facebook can also make life's hardest moments a little less heart-wrenching.

For instance, Espino said that a few days before a death in her family, a note was posted to family members that warned of the patient's grave condition.

"That was kind of nice," she said, because it took some of the shock out of the death when it occurred.

Tim Poor is a writer living in Clayton, Mo.

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