Maybe you've heard the statistic: Grandparents outnumber high school students on Facebook. Should you take the leap and join Facebook? Here are some factors to consider.
Why Join Facebook?
How does your family stay in touch? Social networks have significant advantages over other methods:
- Email While well-suited for some types of communication, email is increasingly falling out of favor with the younger set. Send an email to a grandchild, and it may never get opened. Send a private message on Facebook, however, and the recipient will be alerted the next time he or she logs on. Communicating by email is made more difficult by the transient nature of many email accounts. Research shows that the average person has three email accounts, and almost one-third of email users change their email addresses each year.
- Phone Calls Have you noticed? Lots of people have stopped answering their phones, preferring to communicate by text. There are some sound reasons for the change: Text messages can be viewed and answered more discreetly. Ringing cell phones are rightly considered inappropriate in many settings. Some grandparents, however, don't have the phones or the plans that allow for texting, and many grandparents confess that, unlike their fleet-fingered grandchildren, they find texting difficult. Facebook's chat and direct messaging features work similarly to texting for those grandparents who are more comfortable on their computers.
- Family Websites In the early days of computer connectedness, family websites were popular. Today, many family websites are rarely visited because Facebook offers most of the same services for free that the websites charge for. The family websites do have one significant advantage that's important to some: privacy. No one can visit unless invited. But with half of active users logging on every days, Facebook users are likely to get the immediate responses and feedback that most of us crave.
Does Facebook Have Staying Power?
Since grandparents have been around a while and have seen many hot trends cool off, some may worry that they are going to give up their tried-and-true methods of communication for something that's not going to be around for long. Even though its much-ballyhooed IPO was a bit of a bust, Facebook is not about to disappear, although in the tech world there is always the possibility of something else coming along. That something else is not likely to be an old standard like email.
Next page: The Disadvantages of Facebook