LAWRENCEVILLE -- The Gwinnett Council For Seniors met Thursday morning for its monthly meeting at the Bethesda Senior Center.
The meeting followed its usual format: welcoming, pledge and prayer, health talk, and treasurer's report. The group chatted about free health screenings, Easter candy and the newest club for genealogy enthusiasts.
But for the month of March, the group also gathered to discuss something new: social media.
"I know that talking with the seniors here that a lot of seniors use social media and there are a lot of seniors who have said they don't want to use it -- they're afraid," GCFS President Rosalind Bennett said. "Their kids have told them not to use it."
So she invited the help of Marketing and Community Relations Consultant Paige Havens and Crime and Prevention Coordinator Officer Eric Rooks of the Gwinnett County Police Department to speak to the members. Both spoke about what social media is and how to use it while being safe.
"I think seniors just kind of don't have that knowledge base as the younger generation (does with technology), so if we can get them caught up with social media, credit cards, their mail -- caught up with the trends now, the better," Rooks said. "I want to encourage them to be the best offense they can be. They are their own best eyes and ears."
And that's exactly what he and Havens taught the crowd. The seniors learned about the usage for each site (Facebook is a local pub while Twitter is more like a cocktail party), the benefits to the sites (sharing photos or finding a new job) and how to stay safe (change passwords often and don't give out personal information).
"If you wouldn't want it on the cover of the New York Times, don't post it," Havens said to the room.
Rooks later reminded the audience that not all of your Facebook friends are actually friends. People will pay attention if you say you will be out of town for two weeks -- not in a good way.
After the presentation, most seniors felt better about the social media sites.
"I've been in LinkedIn for quite awhile," said Terry Tipton Kwakumey, who attended the meeting. "I'm pretty conservative. I don't like to put anything down. I think that when it first started, people were pretty open. Then in a short time, it started coming out that we should be weary of those things. It's fun to share, but unfortunately we can't share that much."
The older crowd is eager to take on the next generation of technology to find friends and keep in touch with family, including Bennett.
"I have a granddaughter who is 4 that Skypes," she said. "If we can't keep up with her now, when she gets to be 14 or 24, we won't be able to keep up with her because things progress so fast. We thought it was an appropriate topic today and I think everyone really appreciated it."