Students in Beirut ranging in age from 51 to 81 are proving that you're never too old to learn social media.
Maya Abi Shaheen, coordinator for the program, told IJNet the idea for the course took root after a 2008 AUB study found that people over 50 years old were becoming more lonely and isolated. Cynthia Menti and Abla Sbai’I are credited for founding the program, now in its fifth session.
The spring 2012 session is the first offering new media material. Menti says that the material was added after previous students mentioned they wanted to learn social media as a way to communicate with their children and grandchildren. Participants in the course aren't complete newbies, however, they must already be familiar with computers and the Internet.
The seniors are learning the basics of media like Facebook and Twitter thanks to the Electronic Cooperation, a volunteer student group whose mission is to teach media for all ages.
Former club president Mohammed Hijazi, who currently co-teaches the class with Luluwa Kallash, said that this is the first time he's seen seniors this excited to learn about new media. The course material covered includes Facebook, Twitter and blogging, plus how to upload photos and check privacy settings. Four out of the six sessions in the class are hands-on training; the remaining two are question-and-answer sessions.
Helen Samahha sees that “having young people teach the elderly in this class, as opposed to the other way around, is an encouraging thing.” She also emphasized that new media are important and downplayed the notion that it limits regular social contact between people on a daily basis.
Photo courtesy Bayyan Itani.