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Author Archives: Donna Arriaga

5 Social Media Resources for Seniors

The world of social media is huge, and for seniors just starting to take the social networking plunge, it can feel extremely overwhelming. Here are 5 resources to help seniors who are just beginning to delve into social networking.

  1. Grandchildren are a storehouse of savvy social media information. They’ll help install Skype, iron out any problems with the new webcam, and walk (or run) through the steps of setting up an account. They’re also a fantastic source of motivation. Want to see new pics of the kids or grandkids? Chances are, they’re on Facebook.
  2. Common Craft is an excellent resource. Their “In Plain English” videos cover general social media and social networking topics as well as more targeted videos on Twitter, Wikis, and online photo-sharing. The videos deliver high-quality, easily digestible content.
  3. WeAreVisible.com is a fantastic site that offers step-by-step guides on using Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and more. Each guide has a video to walk you through the process. Guides also have easy-to-understand written instructions with screen shots.
  4. OASIS offers a range of courses on computers and social media specifically for people age 50+. The courses are paced for optimal learning and are often accompanied by information-rich coursebooks/handouts. (Full Disclosure: I currently work as a consultant for the OASIS Connections program. OASIS Connections establishes community-based computer learning programs for seniors.)
  5. SeniorNet also offers computer classes (including social media courses) tailored for people 50+. In addition to their learning centers, SeniorNet also offers online learning programs.

Photo by svenwerk

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Privacy in Social Networks: Updates for August 16

In the age of 1’s and 0’s, things happen in a flash. Privacy controls, security settings, and terms of service (TOS) change before we can bat an eye. They happen whether we do our best to stay on top changes or whether we click “Yes, I’ve read and understand the gazillion-word long TOS”  …even when we, at best, skim the first couple paragraphs and check “I agree”.

So, here are a couple of updates to help you stay on top of the ever-changing digital landscape of privacy and security…

Here’s How To Remove Your Contacts’ Phone Numbers From Facebook’s Clutches, by Mat Honan of Gizmodo

“Facebook loves doing unexpected things with your data. Now it’s culling numbers from your phone and adding them to its online database to ‘help you’ find contacts. Don’t trust Facebook with your mom’s number? Here’s how to fix it.

If you’re syncing, Facebook’s iPhone app will pull the numbers in your phone’s contact file and upload them to Facebook. While it notes that these numbers are only visible to you, Facebook has a way of, let’s say, shifting its policies.

Worse, for many users these numbers are already in its database, and if you’re not comfortable with that (and I’m not) you’re going to need to manually purge them.”

>>See Gizmodo’s full post for step-by step details.

Important: Check your Facebook and LinkedIn security settings, by Maddie Grant of SocialFish

“Two quick things we advise you to deal with ASAP:

LinkedIn has automatically defaulted you to be included in their Social Ads (more here). To opt out of this, hover over your name at the top right and go to Settings, then Account. Under “Manage Social Advertising”, UNCHECK the box that says “LinkedIn may use my name, photo in social advertising.”

Facebook has defaulted everyone to non secure browsing (www or http instead of https). To fix it, go to Account at the top right, then Account Settings, then Security Settings on the left. Check the box for secure browsing.”

>> See the full post by SocialFish

Photo by Rob Pongsajapan

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Rumor: iPhone 5 May Include Hearing Aid Mode

Earlier this week, ElderGadget reported on a rumor that the new iPhone 5 may come with hearing aid compatibility. Not only will the new phone be compatible, but the iOS 5 update will purportedly extend hearing aid compatibility to all iPhone generations. The iPhone 5 and iOS 5 are due for release this fall.

This is fantastic news. Right?

Well, of course it’s fantastic… It’s great that people who suffer from hearing loss will soon have more options when it comes to choosing a mobile device. And it’s wonderful that the iOS 5 update will (or is supposed to) bring all iPhone generations into the hearing aid compatibility mix.

But here’s where the news ceases to be fantastic. Apple is NOT doing anything revolutionary by integrating hearing aid compatibility into their phones. In fact, they’re disappointingly behind the curve on this one. CNET Reviews has an entire section on hearing aid compatible phones. As of this post, the review lists 354 phones! And you can bet your bottom dollar, Android is all over that list.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Seniors and Location-Based Services

Foursquare and Facebook Places are among the most popular location-based applications, but how many seniors do you think are “checking in” and earning Foursquare badges? According to recently published comScore data, people 65+ make up only 1.7% of total check-in service users. People 55 to 64 make up 3%.

But there’s more to location-based services than Facebook and Foursquare.

Where’s the grocery store?

There are countless apps that can provide an inside scoop on all-things-local in a matter of a few screen taps. Mobile applications such as AroundMe, Where and Google Places (just to name a few) are all GPS enabled. In seconds, they’ll map out the nearest grocery store, theater, pharmacy, gas station and more.  A storehouse of local information at one’s fingertips can be especially useful for seniors who have relocated to be closer to family.

Of course, to use these apps, one does need a smartphone. And, before making a snap judgement about how many seniors actually use a smartphone, let me provide the stats. Last April, Mashable published data that indicates as many as 15% of people age 55+ are using smartphones.

GeoTagged Photos

Geotagging links a photo to the precise location it was taken. Conveniently enough, most smartphones automatically attach geographical information to photos and videos. Depending upon the device, it may require a simple click to view images on a map. Alternatively, photo sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa both support geotagged photos.

Health & Safety

Location-based services can play an important role in the health and safety of older adults. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association developed Comfort Zone, a web-based location service that allows families to remotely monitor a person with Alzheimer’s. Families can receive automated alerts when a person has travelled beyond a preset safety zone.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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What’s a QR Code and How Can Seniors Use Them?

These boxy digital codes are popping up all over the place. Just a couple days ago, I saw one on a bottle of dish soap and another on a map of the DC metro bus system.

So what are they? QR codes (short for Quick Response) are 2-dimensional codes that can hold data such as a web address, phone number, email address or geo location.

How do they work? The easiest way to read a QR code is with a smartphone. You’ll need to install a QR code reader on the phone (there are several free QR code readers), and then it’s simply a matter of capturing the QR code with the phone’s camera.

How are QR Codes Used?

Businesses, organizations and city governments are finding new and creative ways to put these codes to use. Companies have used QR codes in billboards to deliver more in-depth product information. The city of Tamarac in Florida rolled out a city wide initiative to use QR codes to reach out to its residents — the codes are used in the city’s quarterly magazine, parks and public art.

Gardeners can obtain in-depth information from QR codes on plant tags. The code takes you straight to a mobile optimized web page with information on plant growing and harvesting details — much more information than is possible to squeeze onto the back of a plant tag.

How Can Seniors and Senior Service Providers Use QR Codes?

Think of QR codes as paper-based hyperlinks. Add these codes to flyers, brochures, and other places to provide a quick portal to additional information. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Business Cards. These cards can often become overcrowded with information printed in font that is too small. A QR code can contain a vCard (or virtual business card) that can easily be stored in the phone’s contacts address book.
  • Nutritional Information on Menus. Special diets require additional attention to dietary needs and nutritional information. Restaurants and care communities may use convenient icons to denote heart-healthy items, gluten-free items, etc. However, by adding a QR code next to menu items, people can have quick access (in larger, easy to read font size) to complete nutritional information.
  • Activities Calendars. Add a QR code next to key activities. The code can take you straight to an event web page with complete information on date, time, location and other details.
  • Brochures. Add a QR code to your brochure and link to a video,  photo album or other web page.

Admittedly, QR codes are only just beginning to make their way into U.S. culture. (They’re very popular in Japan.) But with smartphone usage on the rise — up 60% in the last year — it’s worthwhile to explore how these devices can be used to optimize seniors’ access to information. And, QR codes offer great potential for a wide range of practical uses.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Older Americans Month: From YouTube to Wii

Older Americans MonthThe theme for this year’s Older Americans Month is Older Americans: Connecting the Community. The theme pays homage to the many ways in which older adults bring inspiration and continuity to the fabric of our communities. And, it highlights how technology is helping older Americans live longer, healthier, and more engaged lives.

Enter: YouTube and Wii Bowling.

Connecting Generations Video Challenge

In celebration of Older Americans Month, the AoA has launched a video challenge, Connecting Generations. The challenge invites teams of two or more to submit videos that creatively demonstrate the role of older Americans in connecting the community. Teams are intergenerational and must include at least one person age 60 or older and one person younger than 60. Teams upload their video to YouTube and post their submission on the contest site. The winning team walks away with some pretty sweet visibility on AoA’s website and Facebook page — an excellent marketing opportunity for senior centers and long term care organizations. But it gets better.

ChangingAging.org just announced that “it will feature ALL entries to the contest on the [ChangingAging] blog and it will award the winner of the Connecting Generations video project with an HD Flip Camera.”

(Okay, yes. Last week Cisco did announce that it will stop making the Flip Camera. See ReadWriteWeb’s post Farewell, Flip Camera. But still. It’s a free video camera — a slick, easy to use video camera. Besides, there are still plenty of people with phones that don’t shoot video… yet.)

Wii Bowling Video Game Challenge

Camera shy? Have no fear. Grab those Wii remotes and prepare for the Community Connection Wii Bowling Tournament! The AoA invites senior centers around the country to participate in the Nintendo Wii bowling video game tournament. AoA will average the top scores of each participating group to identify the senior centers with the highest average scores in each category.

The top three highest scoring senior centers in each category will be publicly announced on the AoA’s web site and Facebook page. In addition, senior centers will receive a signed certificate and letter of congratulations from Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee. Full details are on the Older Americans Month video game tournament site.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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iPad for Seniors: 3 Major Advantages Over Standard Computer

The new iPad 2 officially went on sale last Friday, and thanks to Carl Burnstein, I had a chance to get some first-hand experience with the new iPad. As I was oooing and aaahhing over the tech, I came to appreciate some major advantages that the iPad offers to seniors.

1. Touch Screen

Limitations in hand dexterity can make it extremely challenging for seniors to control a mouse. It often takes a lot of time and practice for older seniors to become accustomed to a mouse. There are som pretty great training resources out there like Senior Net’s Mouse Training and the City of Seattle’s online mouse training. Still, there are times when training is simply not enough to help seniors cope with dexterity and mouse control challenges. The alternative has often been teaching older seniors key board short cuts to help reduce the need for a mouse. But the iPad changes all this. The iPad’s touch screen makes it extremely easy for seniors to control the device. Launching a program is as easy as tapping large, easily visible icons — a much more senior friendly alternative to controlling a mouse. Websites can easily be enlarged by using the pinch-out zoom feature. This is a powerful capability for seniors, as it allows them to instantly increase characters and text to an easily readable size.

2. Extremely Easy to Share Photos

The iPad makes it extremely easy to email photos and to save photos received via email. This ease of use boils down to one notable characteristic of the iPad — it lacks an accessible file structure. This is often perceived as a major downside for techies. But for seniors, the hidden file structure poses a significant strength.

To email a photo, you locate the picture in your Photos app, tap the “send” menu option and tap email photo. To save a photo you’ve received via email, just click the attachment and an option window will pop up (see right). Then tap “Save Image” and presto, the picture is automatically saved to your “Photos” app.

The lack of a visible file structure means that seniors can easily save and send pics via email without having to tell the computer whether the photo is located (or should be saved to) the desktop, my documents, my computer, etc. Also, when downloading photos, some users’ pictures might end up in a temp folder or in a downloads folder — this can make it challenging for many people to find and retrieve downloaded files.

3. The iPad 2 is Skype Ready

More and more seniors are using Skype to stay connected to loved ones. With the iPad 2 front camera, seniors no longer need to deal with hooking up a web cam to their computers. Getting Skype ready involves setting up an account and downloading the Skype app. Thats it.

Seniors Appreciate the iPad

The iPad isn’t just a trendy piece of technology. Seniors are seeing real benefits. Just a few days ago, Elder Gadget shared a video of seniors living at Balfour Senior Living in Louisville, Colorado who are finding uses for the iPad. Here’s the video…

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With all it’s advantages (many of which aren’t even touched on in this post), the iPad does pose some disadvantages for seniors — most of which are directly tied to passwords. Each time a user downloads a new app, s/he needs to enter in a password. Also, the iPad’s browser does not have password memory capabilities. This could pose a hefty disadvantage for older seniors who may have difficulties remembering passwords.

Many thanks to Paul Burnstein for brainstorming with me the advantages and disadvantages of iPads for senior.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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3 Important Facebook Privacy Questions

Last May I started teaching social media classes for seniors through OASIS. Each and every time, participants have presented a host of super-savvy questions related to privacy and security. Here are three main questions raised about privacy settings and Facebook:

  1. Who can see my personal information and updates?
  2. Why did Facebook raid my personal email address book?
  3. What if I don’t want to accept a friend request?

1. Who can see my personal information and updates?

This is a gargantuan question that deserves a course all to itself. The most important thing to remember is that users have some pretty serious control over who can see what in Facebook. The golden key is Facebook’s Privacy Setting page. (You find this page using the “Account” drop-down menu located in the upper right hand corner of your main FB window.) The degree of control offered through these settings is immense — and poses a double-edged sword. Put simply, the sheer number of privacy options can drive a person crazy.

Here some big-picture highlights on controlling personal information and updates:

  • You can control whether content is shared with everyone, friends of friends, or friends only. Content you share includes your status, photos, bio, birthday, contact info, etc. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, you can organize your friends into lists and set certain content to be visible only to the specific list you’ve defined. Control over these sharing settings can be found at Account > Privacy Settings > Sharing on Facebook
  • You can control how people find you on Facebook. These settings allow you to determine who can search for you on FB, who can send you friend requests and messages as well as who can see your education, work, city and hometown. These settings can be specified to friends only, friends of friends, and everyone. Be careful: If you set everything to the strictest available privacy setting, people may have a harder time finding you on Facebook. Control over these settings are at Account > Privacy Settings > Connecting on Facebook.
  • You can control whether people can find your Facebook listing using public search (like Google). When this setting is enabled, someone can “Google” you and obtain a preview of your public profile. Without proper privacy settings in place, this could be quite revealing. To tighten privacy, this option can be turned off. (Alternatively, you can set privacy controls to determine what information is visible via public search.) You can turn public search settings on and off at Account > Privacy Settings > Apps and Websites > Public Search.

For an in-depth look at Facebook privacy settings, take a look at Mashable’s post Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings Every User Needs to Know. Their post provides a fantastic run-down of privacy settings complete with helpful screenshots.

2. Why did Facebook raid my personal email address book?

I hear this one a lot. Some people are under the impression that once you sign up for Facebook, FB will automatically rummage through your personal email address book and send a mass email to everyone. One woman shared that FB did this to her and the result: Facebook sent friend requests on her behalf to everyone in her email address book.  Please Note: Facebook will NOT *automatically* raid your personal email address book!

What’s happening in these cases is the result of suggestive action through design. (Check out the overly exaggerated example to the left.) When someone first signs up for an account, they have the option of granting Facebook temporary access to a personal email address book. The page design for this step of the process is set up so that the address book option appears to be a mandatory next step. It’s not. Someone can sign up for a Facebook account without going through this process.

But, Facebook is a social platform, so it just works better when you’re connected to people you know. What this option actually does is pretty simple.  With your permission, Facebook uses email addresses in your address book to let you know which of your email contacts are also on Facebook. After seeing which of your email contacts are also on Facebook, you then have the option of individually selecting contacts who you would like to (a) connect with on Facebook and/or (b) receive an invite to join Facebook, if they don’t already have an account.

3. What if I don’t want to accept a friend request?

At first glance, this is pretty simple and straightforward.  If you don’t have a Facebook account and don’t want one, you can pretty much just ignore the invite. If you are on Facebook, you’ll have the option of either “confirming” and accepting the friend request, or clicking “not now”.

Important Privacy Information: This is where things start getting a little tricky.  If you click “Not Now”, the friend request will be tucked away in “Hidden Requests”. This means that everyone tucked away in “hidden requests” can see your public (“Everyone”) posts in their personal news feed.

The solution: Either decide to permanently delete the friend request or confirm the request. Also, it’s important to know that “hidden request” people can only see your “Everyone” posts. So, if you’ve got privacy settings ratcheted down to friends only, “hidden request” people will not see your updates. TechCrunch has an excellent post about this Facebook Defacto Follow Feature.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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eReaders Pave the Way for Senior Literature Enthusists

When looking for the next thriller to read, it’s not uncommon for seniors to seek out a large print version — it’s easier on the eyes and can make reading more enjoyable. Long term care facilities often have a well-stocked supply of large print books.  Still, seniors’ reading options are limited because let’s face it, large print books just aren’t as commonplace as standard print.

But with eBooks and eReaders saturating the market, there’s very little reason to limit reading options to print. eReaders have the capacity to vastly expand the selection of books that seniors have access to. Font sizes can be adjusted and with Project Gutenberg, thousands of books are available for free.

Here’s a video of a 99 year old woman from Portland, Oregon who rediscovered her love of reading with the help of an iPad…

 

She certainly finds the iPad useful, but with a price point starting at around $500, this may not be the most feasible option. Not to mention, if the device will be used primarily (or solely) to read books, a more optimal solution might be to invest in an eReader like a Nook or Kindle.

eReaders certainly have practical implications for expanding reading options for the individual. Long-term care establishments such as CCRC’s, assisted living facilities and nursing homes could also offer eReaders to residents as a way to expand seniors’ options. Many universities now have programs that allow students to check out tech equipment like iPads. Care facilities could invest in eReaders and implement similar check-out systems.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Visiting Seniors — Does Skype Count?

Aging in Place Technology Watch recently published a post about China mandating adult children to visit their aging parents. Here’s what the Aging in Place blog shares:

The Chinese are now experiencing the law of unintended consequences — their one-child policy created a downstream eldercare issue. No siblings to split the responsibility, dispersed families and a government worried about the cost of care. So they have proposed a law mandating that family members visit their aging parents at a frequency to be named, plus ‘pay medical expenses for the elderly suffering from illnesses and provide them with nursing care.”

I wonder — what is a visit — does Skype count? A phone call? How can this be verified? This was based on a very real worry by the government that the social net programs will be overwhelmed by 2020 (250 million over the age of 65). So isn’t the exact same phenomenon happening in the US? And what does it mean to the future of safety net programs if 20% of US women had no children at all?

This post really got me thinking about technology and how it’s used every day to help bring us closer together. People across the world — including seniors — are using Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep in touch with distant family members.  Many assisted living facilities have integrated Skype into regular activities programming for residents.  Cedar Sinai Park, for example, has a Skype-ready computer lab and also offers training and tech support to residents using Facebook and Skype.

Still, tech will never replace a hug.

My mother loves watching videos of her grandchildren and viewing new photos of the little munchkins on Facebook. But all the videos in the world won’t satiate the overwhelming desire to wrap her arms around those grandkids.  No, tech doesn’t replace hugs. Technology is the bridge that allows us to see the smiles, hear the laughs and stay in touch when those person-to-person visits aren’t possible.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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