Given the tremendous advances in technology in recent years, more and more people are using social media websites to keep in touch with family members, classmates and friends. However, older generations can oftentimes feel overwhelmed and intimidated when it comes to using a computer.
Living in a world where technology advances at break-neck speed, it's hard to keep up with all the changes in the world of technology, especially for seniors. Not wanting to be left out of the loop and wishing to better keep in touch with children, grandchildren and friends, many older adults are taking a class in order to learn the "ins and outs" of social media giant Facebook.
One such class, "Facebook for Seniors," is being offered at the James V. Brown Library, 19 E. Third St. The two-hour program, which is geared for adults 55 years and older, is taught by Karl Ivers, who has more than 20 years of experience as technology coordinator and trainer in the public schools and adult education.
Launched in 2004, Facebook is a social networking site in which users create profiles with photos, lists of interests, contact information and other personal information. The site allows people to communicate with friends and other users through private or public messages and a chat feature. According to Facebook, the website has more than 600 million active users and more than 50 percent log on to the site on a daily basis.
During the "Facebook for Seniors" session, participants learn to register for a free personal Facebook account and add other family members and acquaintances as "Facebook Friends." The class also addresses appropriate information to post online and certain cautions in regard to internet usage.
To help deter concerns regarding privacy, Facebook enables users to dictate their own privacy settings and choose who can see specific parts of their profile. Ivers alleviates these fears and teaches seniors the necessary steps on how to protect themselves when it comes to online safety.
"Adults are fun to teach and eager to learn, especially seniors," Ivers said. "... and Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, no matter where they are in the world."
Ivers said a lot of people would like to use Facebook, but didn't have the means to learn how until now.
The classes are held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Gates Computer Lab, located on the lower level of the library. The lab is equipped with an overhead projector which offers people in the class the opportunity to follow along with Ivers as he instructs the important "dos and dont's" of Facebook.
Handouts are passed out at the beginning of the class, which are handy reference guides while later at home. A personal photograph also is taken so people can post their picture on their very own Facebook page.
Eager to sign up and reserve a spot in the class, Bob Brown, of Linden, said he was one of the ones who didn't want to be left out of the loop. His curiosity about social media and social networking websites as a way to communicate better and more efficiently with others, stemmed from his grandchildren.
"The class has helped me keep up with technology," he said. "You have to be aware."
He said he plans to continue to utilize Facebook to keep in touch with his grandkids, "who grow up way too fast!"
"I don't want to miss a thing," he said.
Sylvia Anthony, of Montoursville, agreed and said she learned about the class in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. She has family in South Carolina who she also wishes to keep in closer contact with.
"The site is amazing," she said. "I get a glimpse into my family's world at any given minute."
Anthony said her daughter and her family recently took a July 4th trip to the Adirondack Mountains. While there, her granddaughter climbed atop a mountain and was proposed to by her boyfriend.
"And of coarse, I got the news right away," she said.
The 69-year-old grandmother of seven even said Facebook helps keep track of her grandchildren who live in town.
"You never get a chance to see them as often as you want," she said. "Facebook helps with that."
According to Volunteer and Adult Programming Coordinator Shaun Newcomer, the classes have generated a ton of interest and have been hugely successful.
"Karl is a big reason why this program is so successful," he said.
Newcomer said Ivers volunteered his time and services in order to teach the class for free.
"His passion for teaching really shows," he said. "It's evident from the response we have been receiving."
According to Newcomer, due to the program's popularity, additional classes will be scheduled. To learn more, contact the library at 326-0536, check the Williamsport Sun-Gazette or visit the library's website.
Registration is required and seating is limited. There is a waiting list and interested people should call the library to reserve a seat or register online at www.jvbrown.edu.