Online Journalism

Baby boomers: booming into the Internet scene

April 18th, 2011 · Comments Off on Baby boomers: booming into the Internet scene

You’re a young college student who has grown up with technology. You know Microsoft Word, Google, and social media outlets such as Twitter like the back of your hand. The Internet has become second nature to you and you can’t imagine how anybody would have trouble to adapting to it. You also can’t fathom your parents making use of such outlets, nor do you think they deserve to use such outlets. Your mother creating a Facebook? Pfft! That’s ridiculous.

If you are like many young adults, however, dooms day has come and you too have received a Facebook friend request from your mother, father, or even grandparent. According to Jamie Carracher’s article “How Baby Boomers Are Embracing Digital Media” for Mashable.com, encounters with the +40 population on the web are not going away anytime soon, in fact they are increasing. As Carracher cites, “social network use among Internet users 50 years old and older has nearly doubled to 42 percent over the past year.”

So why is there this proliferation of baby boomer web use? Why are more and more elders embracing smart phone technology? In his article Carracher offers the following answers:

  1. Baby boomers can connect with friends and family in ways that seemed unfathomable. Rather than having to call a son or daughter on the telephone or ask a child to mail pictures to them, baby boomers can email the children or look at their photo albums on Facebook or on album sharing websites such as Picasa.
  2. Baby boomers appreciate the mobility and convenience that comes with devices such as Blackberries and iPads. When adults were in college they were most likely using typewriters to produce papers and using telephone booths to call colleagues when they were away from land lines. With the use of smart technology, adults can now contact family and friends, search the web, and take photographs or videos with one simple device.
  3. Baby boomers realize the benefits of search engines and the incredible amount of information that is at their fingertips through the Internet. Career adults, or any adult for that matter, love the fact that they can find the information they need through a simple Google search. If a career professional needed to find out about school cancellations for his or her children, he or she could perform a simple Google search rather than having to call the school the child attends.

As can be seen from Carracher’s list, baby boomers see many of the same benefits of Internet use as we do. So what does their adoption of this medium mean to us? What should we consider when making an Internet that is easy for both the young and the old to use? We should think about the following when taking on this task:

  1. The adult population on the web is only going to continue growing. “Don’t ignore them.”
  2. Making the web easy for individuals who are not tech-saavy without being insulting. “We need to make sure we are building it to empower everyone.”
  3. How accessible the website is. Can adults with poor eyesight and a hearing aid take advantage of a web page the same way a college student with 20/20 vision and perfect hearing can?
  4. How we can educate elders on technology use. Baby boomers are not as tech-savvy as we are and there would be severe consequences if they fell in to the “digital divide.”

Rather than shunning adult use of the Internet, we should embrace it. Even better, we should partake in a sort of “community service” and help them understand the medium. If we do that, we can all live harmoniously and enjoy the great power of the Web together.

Follow Jamie Carracher on Twitter.

Tags: Comm361 · Facebook · social media · Student Blog Posts

Infographic of Birth Places of the First Ladies of the U.S.

April 18th, 2011 · Comments Off on Infographic of Birth Places of the First Ladies of the U.S.

Our recent video conference with Anita McBride, chief of staff for former First Lady Laura Bush, had me wondering about previous First Ladies. Below I created a Google map of the states the First Ladies of the United States were born in. I plan to continue editing it and add pictures of the First Ladies. […]

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts