As Linda Bacon sat waiting for her Skype class to begin, she made a confession to another classmate.
“I told her I had no idea what Skype was,” said the 65-year-old.
However, Bacon understands that while she may not have been connected to the latest social networking tools, she can’t be afraid to learn what they are all about.
Social networking has many benefits for senior citizens, said Kelly O’Connell, Bacon’s computer instructor at Loose Senior Citizen Center, Sept. 30.
For one, learning new skills is a great way to challenge the mind and keep active. With so many businesses and organizations sharing items online, it’s also an essential way to access valuable information.
Another good reason: Social networking tools such as Facebook, Skype and even email can keep seniors closely connected to their children and grandchildren.
Gloria Williamson of Fenton was familiar with email and Facebook, but as someone who enjoys looking at friends’ photos online, she wanted more information on how to post photos herself.
When the 69-year-old Williamson registered for classes, she was hoping to learn some tips that would help.
Although she didn’t know what to expect at first, Williamson was pleased with the results. She said what she learned will help her gain access to information and stay in touch with the world – when she wants to.
“I’ll email people sometimes, but most of the time I will call them,” said Williamson.
She thought Skype was interesting, but doesn’t think she will use it much at home.
According to O’Connell, many seniors want to learn about computers because everything is headed in an online direction.
The computer classes offered by Loose Senior Citizen Center are designed specifically for seniors and class sizes are kept small so participants receive the attention they need. O’Connell also offers one-on-one instruction for those who prefer that option.
All have been canceled until further notice, because of the fire, but officials are working to get things up and running. Fitness classes resumed Monday at Hope Lutheran Church, 7355 Silver Lake Road. Staff has also opened offices in building A from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Although she had a computer before taking the classes, Bacon was almost never online. Her family teased her a bit about her lack of computer knowledge, so she decided to see what all the talk was about. Bacon registered for several computer classes at Loose that covered everything from how to use email to how to navigate around Facebook.
“There are so many things you need it (a computer) for,” she said.
Even non-social networking computer skills can help seniors communicate with others. O’Connell shared a story about a woman in one of her classes who had a computer that her child purchased for her. What she wanted to do with it was write her life story so she could share her experiences with her family and future generations.
She enrolled in O’Connell’s Microsoft Word class and called this summer to say that she was finished writing and in the editing process now. When it is complete, she plans to have it bound and distributed to family members.
“It was exciting,” said O’Connell about hearing her progress.
Although she hasn’t had much time to explore the Internet at home since taking the classes last month, Bacon does plan to use what she learned to connect with family.
And when she learned what Skype was, she was surprised, but thought it was a really cool concept. She was glad she took the class.
“I really want to learn more,” said Bacon.