New Jersey-based ‘Facebook Lola’ to form support group to teach seniors about social media

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

JERSEY CITY, NJ – At 79, Juliet Oberlin lives independently in Rahway, New Jersey. She says living alone has its perks but it can sometimes lead to boredom.

But when “Mama Yette” was introduced to Facebook in 2011, she said she could never stop posting pictures and updating her daily status.

“You know with this Facebook and Instagram you get in touch with your family, from your smallest one to the oldest one, even if they’re not around you, you will know what they’re doing, where they ate, who’s their new girlfriend,” Oberlin said.

And she is not alone. A new research shows that social media use by those aged 65 and above in the United States have tripled in the last four years.

88 year old Casimera Cabahug said time flies when she’s on Facebook

“It keeps me occupied and busy and not get bored, my grand children taught me how to use Facebook,” Cabahug said.

“Mama Yette”, the self-proclaimed Facebook and Instagram addict is a retired nurse who spends most of her time watching her favorite ‘teleserye’ on The Filipino Channel, cooking her own meals and sharing everything else that happens to her on social media.

“Ay naku, diyos mio, pag-katayo ko, pag-kaupo ko na sa kama, pipindutin ko na ang aking Facebook. O ano ba may nag-reply ba sa aking pinost, pag nag-post ako ng isa next morning I’ll see ang dami ng like, ang daming comment and I’m happy. (Oh my, as soon as I start getting ready for bed, I go on Facebook to see if people have replied to my posts that day. Then I’d see so many likes, so many comments and I’m happy),” she said.

Her daughter Marisse Panlilio, who introduced her to social media said her mom’s addiction to Instagram has its pros and cons.

“She’d call in the middle of the night to say she has a big problem. So of course it’s your mom calling you at 3 in the morning so you ask what’s going on. And then she’d say, Instagram doesn’t work,” Panlilio said.

But for the most part, Panlilio admits that Facebook did wonders for her mother.

“It made her mor aware of the things going on around us. I have friends who are now her friends on Instagram so they see her posts and they interact with her. So it has made her mind more active,” she said.

“I’m very thankful to Facebook, because it made me alert, aware of everything,” Oberlin said.

In return, ‘Mama Yette’ would like to form a support group that would teach seniors how to use social media to better their lives, by connecting to the ones they love, no matter how great the distance between them.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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