Bertha Kronenberg readily admits to being a bit of a Nosy Parker.
But it’s a well-intentioned nosiness for the Toronto senior who, like any devoted grandmother, just wants to know what her grandchildren are up to.
Kronenberg regularly logs onto her computer and goes to Facebook to find out about their comings and goings, and in doing so, has become one of an increasing number of Canadian seniors turning to computers and social media to stay connected with the world around them.
“I want to check up on my grandchildren … I want to see what they’re doing, their girlfriends, their boyfriends, what nonsense they’re up to,” says Kronenberg, a resident at Forest Hill Retirement Living in north Toronto.
“But I’m a silent granny. I don’t make comments but I know … I keep in touch that way.”
Figures from Statistics Canada show that the number of Canadians 75 years of age and older who are online grew from five per cent in 2000 to 27 per cent in 2012.
And many of those seniors are, like Kronenberg, logging onto Facebook and other social networking sites.
A report last year by seniors’ services provider Revera Inc. in partnership with Leger Marketing found that more than half of online seniors older than 75 belong to a social networking site such as Facebook, and more than one-third of them go to those sites daily.
The number of seniors online came as a surprise to staff at Revera, which operates Kronenberg’s residence and is trying to find the role the online world can play in improving seniors’ lives.
“It was quite shocking and a surprise to us to find out how many of our own seniors are very deeply online and have lots of great knowledge,” says Trish Barbato, senior vice-president of home health and business development at Revera Inc.
“They said that they see it as a way to stay socially connected, and also, it’s a way to live independently and stay home longer.”