Senior Social Networking – the rewards outweigh the risks

 Senior social networking is a fun part of a successful retirement.

These days many people retire with no partner. Some have been married before, but are now on their own. others have never been married. Whilst others just want to extend their existing social network.

The age of "silver surfers" has now arrived.

This is a group with very diverse computer skills. Whilst many have fully integrated the latest technologies into their lives, there are also many first time users who view the technology with apprehension, scepticism and even fear.

"One that would have the fruit must climb the tree" ~ Thomas Fuller

Understanding this diversity senior social networking sites have recognised this and provide access, facilities and support for the full spectrum of "silver surfers"… a term which I think sounds much cooler than "senior surfers"!

So what are these sites all about?

Senior social networks vary in the range of services they provide and the particular niche they serve.

These sites vary in size, for example, each year nearly 1 million people join With some sites having been around since the late 1990's.

On the other hand there are some sites where it's hard to see, or know, how many members they have and where the members are.

Recognising that many people in this group are not fully computer literate some sites have addressed this by simplifying their processes and providing detailed step by step instructions.

For those new to online dating (to many a bit of a daunting thought!) there is user friendly assistance and helpful online dating tips and advice.

  • The basic element of all sites is your personal profile with a varying amount of detail and pictures.
  • Then there are chat or forum groups related to your interests you can join. These groups include money, travel, learning, fun, careers, body and health, bridge, gardening plus many more. In addition if there is not one that meets your needs you can often start your own.
  • An extension of the chat are webcam chat rooms. At least with these you can see who you are talking to. Some thoughts that may come to mind … "Profile photo must have been taken 10 years ago?" or "Wow! They're having a real bad hair day!!"
  • Recently more and more sites have been developed which target narrow niche elements like the baby boomers or the older seniors. With some sites taking on elements of Facebook and You Tube.
  • Blogs are available for seniors who want to post and share creative content, writing and photographs.
  • For the real enthusiast you can also get access to your own website where you can post, blog and keep in touch.

Some of the other interests that senior social networking sites are targeting include social, political, financial and lifestyle groups. Whereas  others focus on health and wellness, caregiving, recreation, activities, and healthy living.

The Rewards

"Only those who do nothing make no mistakes" ~ Author Unknown

The Internet offers fantastic opportunities for people to meet. Senior social networking covers areas as diverse as meeting people, chat rooms, and forums, groups with common interests, activity partners for going to restaurants, books and music, sport and recreation, and travel companions.

Whether seeking friends, serious relationships, travel partners, pen pals or romantic dates there is a place, and someone, for everyone.

It is much easier and less threatening to start meeting people from the comfort of your home then wandering around singles bars hoping to find your perfect match.

But even starting out from home can be quite intimidating. Communicating with a stranger, often thousands of kilometres away, with a technology that you are not fully at ease with.

The risks

Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.
~ George S. Patton

Wherever there are people there are scammers, charlatans and thieves and for some of these types social networking sites are fertile hunting grounds.

Be especially aware if you are vulnerable, lonely or overly trusting.

These days who hasn't received an email promising them millions of pounds or dollars merely for allowing their bank accounts to be used for some questionable transaction? Nigerian 419 (advance fee) scams are famous. Just check them out on Snopes or Hoax Busters.

Simply, beware of greed …  being fully aware that if it looks too good to be true, it is.

But like most things in life there is a risk and reward element. If you don't take some risks, your life will continue along in the same humdrum rut but if you do take some risk you may be disappointed or even hurt.

So what's the conclusion?

"You miss 100% of the shots you never take".
~ Wayne Gretzky

Senior social networking offers a convenient opportunity to meet people from all over the world who could become great friends.

To avoid unnecessary pain one must just take simple precautions. Be realistic and keep one's expectations to a reasonable level, don't rush things, and if you have the faintest doubt, get out.

Before plunging into senior social networking, look at some of the review sites which assess the various offerings.

Read some of the negative comments in forums to prepare you and warn you of potential problems. Stay within the site and don't get lured away to Yahoo Messenger or similar.

Immediately cut off all contact with anyone who asks you for money.

If you get to the stage when you are considering meeting, check them out by Googling their name. Depending on how visible they are online, the search could tell you whether they really live where they say they do, or even confirm that they’re using their real name.

Another verification you could use, if you're in the US, is to use a service like Net Detective … it's reasonably priced and quite fun.

In an independent study of the site eHarmony, it was found that on average, 542 people are married every day in the United States because of meeting online at eHarmony ... nearly 5% of all marriages in the US.

Senior social networking is here to stay … and there is no doubt that the advantages and opportunities far outweigh the risks.

Retirement Lifestyle: You're never too old to outlive enthusiasm and enjoyment.

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Retirement today is a scary prospect for many folks. Financial, Health and Future challenges! How prepared are you?