Meadville Tribune

Our Generation

March 13, 2009

When Grandpa wants to be your facebook friend


Associated Press Writer

HAMILTON, N.J. (AP) — When your 88-year-old grandfather sends a request to be your "friend" on Facebook, you have two choices: Either confirm it, then quickly take down all those party pictures you thought were so funny, or plan on never coming home for the holidays.

As someone who lists pinot grigio as a hobby, I was seriously concerned about my grandfather joining Facebook.

I was worried my grandfather would get the wrong idea about me. Or worse yet, he'd find out exactly who I was — not the teetotaling granddaughter I try to portray twice a year when I go home.

And that's just what happened: We got to know each other through a social networking site that many 30-somethings haven't learned to use, let alone octogenarians.

"I don't browse Facebook much, but I see that it is a way to get to the nitty-gritty of a person's character," my grandfather explained. "Also a way to do something late at night when I can't sleep."

Turns out, my grandfather isn't the only one with an AARP card using social networking sites.

Facebook estimates that it has a few million users over the age of 65. MySpace claims to have 6.7 million users age 65 and over on its site. In fact, according to MySpace spokeswoman Jessica Bass, older users are among the site's fastest growing demographic.

Seventy-one-year-old Lynne Bundesen of Santa Fe, N.M., is one of them. Why did she join? "To keep track of what my grandchildren are doing, of course," she said.

Her grandson, 27-year-old Russell Simon, knows that but doesn't mind.

"It keeps her young to be on there, in more ways than one," he said. "She puts these very young pictures of herself up there. She was beautiful. Just seeing her when she was young, out on a boat with her hair flowing, it makes me think of her differently.

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