When people hear the word "chat room" they often automatically think it's a dating site, or worry that engaging in chatting online can pose a danger to mom or dad due to privacy issues and so forth. However, senior chat rooms, when approached with common sense and care, can help seniors feel more included and less isolated.
Chat rooms provide options for home bound elders to communicate. Communication is an essential aspect of socialization. Even if mom or dad can't get outside as often as they prefer, they can communicate with others via the Internet. Companionship, communication, and interaction with others helps to prevent feelings of isolation that can lead to loneliness and then to depression. Loneliness and depression are unhealthy for anyone, let alone seniors who may already feel as if they are no longer a part of "life". However, that being said, approaching online socialization venues must always be done with a modicum of caution regardless of the age of the user.
A number of social venues are available for seniors. Browsing on the Internet, type in "senior chat rooms" and you'll get a variety of possibilities. Senior chat rooms are specifically designed for those 50 or older and can provide a safe and secure environment where seniors can connect with others from around the world. It's not always about dating, but about communicating. It's about sharing thoughts, ideas, memories, and sharing a laugh or two.
Numerous senior sites offer a variety of chat room environments. If mom or dad is expressing an interest in communicating with other seniors or you're looking for websites that mom or dad can join to enhance socialization, keep one thing in mind. Socialization is vital to aging individuals.
You don't have to worry that mom or dad is only joining a senior chat room to meet a new potential romance. Some do, but most do so for a sense of companionship - to have someone to talk to. Experts have determined that seniors who benefit from socialization can extend their life span and reduce stress, maintain a sense of purpose and importance in life, as well as improving self-esteem.
Human contact promotes emotional health and wellness. Yes, you do have to be careful about some of the chat rooms out there, and if possible, monitor communications when mom or dad is just getting started. Follow Internet safety tips, and share those tips with mom or dad when it comes to keeping safe in online chat rooms. Some of these tips include:
These are basic safety tips for anyone communicating with others online. For adult children of aging parents, you might feel more comfortable if you and mom or dad can participate in the chat room together until you feel more comfortable. After all, a number of challenges may inhibit mom or dad's ability to communicate online. Some of these challenges may include:
Chat rooms can be beneficial and enjoyable for seniors, but always remember that safety comes first.
If mom or dad is not experienced with computers, show them how to use them, and if you have to, type a short list of "dos and don’ts" that are visible by the computer keyboard. While many seniors today are certainly computer and Internet savvy, some are not. While encouraging communication and socialization through chat rooms, it's important to make sure that mom or dad will be safe; will not be a target to scammers or fraud; and to ensure that the experience is a positive and enjoyable one.