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Senior adults learn the basics of social media

Standing in front of a group of senior citizens before the start of a "Social Media for Seniors — Facebook and Skype" class, perhaps Shawn Martin said it best.

"We're now in a world where technology is expected," Martin said. "And with that comes a lot of cool opportunities."

Martin, who works in training and development for Riverland Community College, gave seniors the basics on how to get started with a Facebook account to join the social media world.

The class was part of the St. Olaf Continuing Education 2012 Thursday at St. Olaf Lutheran Church. For $5, area senior citizens chose two classes, enjoyed lunch and heard from keynote speaker Al Batt, area storyteller and humorist. Terry Dorsey held a birding class and Craig Byram discussed senior legal issues.

To start, Martin gave the class reasons that folks are part of social networking: You can share images and stories and connect with family and friends.


"I can almost guarantee that your grandkids have a Facebook site," Martin said.

A good number of folks raised their hands when Martin asked who had Facebook accounts already. Then he walked them through setting up accounts — everything from profile pictures to finding friends to settings.

Security was a concern for some attendees. Martin cautioned them on what they put out there for others to see, like your home address. He showed them where the privacy settings could be found and adjusted when users are logged in.

"Nothing goes on Facebook that you don't put there," Martin said. "And if you remember nothing else about security, remember that."

Lots of questions came up about Facebook. What's the difference between a "friend" and a "group"? If I post to someone's wall, who can see it? How much time do you spend on Facebook? To answer that last question, Martin had a pretty simple, and quite possibly standard, answer.

"Too much," Martin said.

Larry Andersen and his wife, Sherry, attended the class. Though Larry Andersen does not have a Facebook profile and said he doesn't intend to, Sherry does because she wants to communicate with the grandkids. Larry Andersen said he doesn't want to spend hours staring at a screen.

"You're either in it or the door is closed to you," Larry Andersen said. "It's an avenue to know what's going on."


Martin also touched on using Skype to video chat or call others, and he said he loves it. He encourages those who would like to use Skype to invest in a Web cam, earphones and a microphone.

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