Feeling happy and being healthy isn’t a one-person job. Turns out it’s more like a group effort. The more people in your group – the more social connections you have – the happier and healthier you may be. Having a good social network can help you feel better and improve the quality of your life; it might even make you live longer! Loneliness, on the other hand, can lead to increased stress and health problems both mental and physical. A strong body of research shows that being connected with people and with your community is a strong contributor to overall good health. And so…what does going online have to do with being social? As we get older, it can be more challenging to stay connected. There is a higher risk of losing some of our important social connections. You leave the workforce. Your kids or your friends may move out of the area. You may be divorced, widowed, or living on your own. Health issues may make it more difficult to get out as often, or at all.  That’s where online communities may be able to make a difference and fill part of the gap. A personal computer or iPad just might be one element of your social life, a way that technology can help you connect and stay part of the social scene.  The use of social networking sites like Facebook has increased rapidly among people over age 50. A Pew research study in 2010 shows that 42 percent of adults 65 and older are online, as are almost 80 percent of people who are 50-64.  The internet can be a place to communicate with friends and family whether it’s through email messages, online chat features, or social networking sites. While online socializing doesn’t replace face-to-face interactions, it is positively associated with more and better contact with family and friends.

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