September 30, 2010

INDONESIA: Growing trends seen among elderly Facebook users

JAKARTA, Indonesia / The Jakarta Post / News & Views / September 30, 2010

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg may not have thought that one day old people would become enthusiastic about the social networking system he invented in 2004.

Six years after its establishment, Facebook has become the phenomenon of the century, with everybody seeming to love it: Men and women, young and old, children, parents and grandparents.

Take the case of Yanto, 62, the father of six children and the grandfather of three, who has been using Facebook since two years ago.

“I joined because using Facebook I can check on my children all the time,” said the man, whose two children now live in Australia and in the US.

Yanto said he saw a variety of advantages in Facebook over other communication platforms.

“I can also keep in touch with relatives and old friends,” said the man, who found his childhood friends in junior high school and high schools through Facebook.

“We had a small reunion with Facebook and continue sending messages to each other,” he said.

The same experience has also been felt by 55-year-old Endang Dwi Lestari, who is reuniting with her junior high school friends because of Facebook.

“It is impossible to imagine that we will be together again. We all come from a junior high school in a small area in Pati [Central Java]. “We have been separated since the 1970s, but with Facebook we have met each other again,” said the working mother, adding that online rendezvous had made the group hold occasional meetings.

Endang joined Facebook in early 2009, to keep up with trends.

“I saw that everyone in my office was using it and I know my children also use it. So, why couldn’t I?” the mother of two said.

Endang said she was an active Facebook user, with more than 180 online friends so far. She frequently updates her status and monitors what is going on with others.

“I always get the latest information related to my children and others through Facebook,” said Endang, who used to receive wedding invitations on Facebook.

Based on Endang and Yanto’s example, people should correct the common assumption that this social networking site is only popular among youths.

Facebook and all other social networking media have captivated young and old.

However, the case of Benny Soetrisno, 56, may be an exception to the trend. Benny joined Facebook two years ago because of social pressures, but later decided to become an inactive user, realizing that the medium was “not inspiring.”

“People of my age need something deep and wise, not people saying ‘I hate Monday’ or ‘Hello Friday’ all the time,” said Benny, who has 197 friends in his friend list.

Indonesia is ranked the third-most active country in the world in terms of Facebook use. Data from Google in August 2010 shows Indonesia has 26 million active Facebook users every month, just under the UK, which has 28 million and the US with 130 million.

This data doesn’t mention specific demographics of Facebook users, but another survey in the US indicates that there has been a huge increase in the number of elderly people logging on.

According to the research revealed in August by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the number of people 65 years of age and older using social networks doubled to 26 percent from early this year, .

The research showed that older social network users were inclin-ed to reconnect with people from the past, potentially creating support networks for jobs after retirement.

Copyright © 2008 The Jakarta Post - PT Bina Media Tenggara. 

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