Thursday, 1 November 2007

Social networking comes to Twilight Zoners

Today Saga has announced Saga Zone - a social networking site specially for the 'over 50s'. Apparently they have already 'secretly' signed up 13,000 Saga Magazine readers. The media has had a field day with comments like "a hip replacement for Facebook" and it likely to be a hit with the 'Gin crowd'.

At a time when even the Government cannot estimate the UK population to within the nearest 10m, there is only one population growth forecast anyone can make with any certainty. There are around 12m people aged over 60 in the UK right now but that figure with grow to over 19m in 25 years time. You have to be over 70 now to have had no exposure to IT at work. Most of the people turning 60 today are pretty computer literate. Indeed, the over 50s already spend more time online than almost all age groups other than teenagers. They visit news, travel and finance sites more than any other group and are one of the groups most adept at online shopping. So, as I have said on numerous occasions, the 'Silver Surfers' are going to become a major force in the online world. And, of course, they are pretty good at 'networking' too. There are more clubs and activities for the over 50s than for any other age group. So social networking of the online Facebook variety just must be a natural.

Having said that, I take issue with the need for Saga's rather 'ageist' approach. I have to admit to being both 'over 50' (by quite a bit!) but I really value my 'younger' friends. I really don't want a network where I can't keep in touch with my daughters, grandchildren, current and ex-workmates etc. I know not everyone agrees with me ('nothing new there' you say!) but I want one network profile that allows me access to many 'niche' networks and allows me to restrict access to bits of my profile as thought fit.

In other words, I'd like Saga Zone as a 'zone' on Facebook. Somewhere I can go to when I want to escape from all these 'young' people 'superpoking' me. But I really don't want to live in an old person's home all the time - not until absolutely necessary anyway.

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