Building a Richer, More Fulfilling Life
I often comment on the dangers of becoming a “couch potato.” When you keep moving, you build better health. But there’s one time when sitting down may be good for you. And, believe it or not, it’s when you use your computer to go online.
There’s plenty of junk out in “Cyberspace.” But research is beginning to show there are benefits, too. Especially for mature adults.
A 2010 Israeli study sifted through a year’s worth of data – more than 686,000 entries – from 14 top online websites for mature adults. The study found several clear benefits associated with using these sites:
- Greater self-discovery and personal growth
- Improved social support
- Enhanced sense of self-preservation1
In other words, being part of an online community is more than fun. It offers emotional and mental benefits as well.
A second study found similar results. Participants in 6 online communities found opportunities for meaningful play, community building, and an outlet to help them cope with aging issues.2
A third study found that using these online resources is directly linked to a sense of community and well being.3
I’m not saying you should become a couch potato… But, clearly, spending a little time online can enhance your enjoyment of life. Here are a few tips to make your experience more enjoyable… and safer.
- If you didn’t grow up with computers, you may feel a little intimidated. If so, check out SeniorNet (www.seniornet.org). This non-profit helps mature adults find good computer classes.
- For answers to lots of questions – and links to plenty of services – visit Uncle Sam’s website. (http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Seniors.shtml) You’ll find topics from “Ask an Energy Expert” to “Zip Code Lookup.”
- Probably the safest online community for anyone over 50 is AARP. (http://www.aarp.org/online_community/) You’ll find hundreds of articles, groups of people with similar interests, photo sharing, and much more.
- Of course safety is a big concern… especially since scammers like to target mature adults. Here are four ways to protect your privacy:
- Many of the most popular social networking sites sell your personal information to advertisers. If you don’t want your inbox stuffed with junk, read privacy policies carefully before signing up.
- Many online surveys and quizzes are used to trick you out of personal information. Avoid anything that asks for your age, birthday, or other personal details. Even if it’s sent to you by a friend.
- Software maker Symantec offers a free 60-page booklet on cyber safety. You can download the booklet at the following Web address: http://us.norton.com/familyresources/resources.jsp?title=cyber_safe_seniors. You’ll find lots of helpful information there. The booklet also contains plugs for Symantec’s products, but don’t feel you have to buy anything.
Online communities offer a wealth of opportunities. You can make new friends – and reconnect with old ones. You can build skills and discover new interests. You can expand your horizons, while sharing your world with others.
Best of all, the online world can help you feel better, more empowered and more a part of a vibrant community. In other words, it can help you live a more fulfilling and enjoyable life.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 Nimrod, G., “Seniors’ Online Communities: A Quantitative Content Analysis,” The Gerontologist. 2010; 50(3): 382-392.
2 Nimrod , G., “The Fun Culture in Seniors’ Online Communities,” The Gerontologist. 2011; 51(2): 226-237.
3 Sum, S., et al, ” Internet use as a predictor of sense of community in older people,” Cyberpsychol Behav. Apr 2009; 12(2): 235-23 Apr 9.