Ctrl + Alt = Date?
While more people over age 55 use Facebook than those under age 17, and 43 percent of people aged 46 to 64 use social networking sites, not everyone in advancing age is an advanced user of technology [source: Baker]. Learning how to navigate can be harder for older generations not raised on computers. Organizations like Seniors Connect and Net Literacy are staffing tech-savvy young helpers to teach computer basics in classrooms so more retirees can connect. A similar program at Pace University in New York City trains tutors to empathize and understand the slower pace needed for retiree instruction. Some even get training by having their fingers taped together, eyesight impaired with smudged-up sunglasses and hearing obscured with cotton balls, all aimed at helping the young understand how hard new learning can be for older users [source: Shellenbarger].
Dating can be stressful and exhilarating, as well as relaxing and heartbreaking, all of which do something to a person's insides. Stress is bad for the heart and mind, and heartbreak can lead to social withdrawal or loneliness, which may increase depression and decrease mental sharpness [source: The New York Times]. On the other hand, dates that involve activities like reading, dancing and playing backgammon, for instance, can reduce the onset of dementia. And simple hand-holding has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety [sources: Verghese et al, Overdeep].
A Scientific American study released on Valentine's Day 2011 even showed that romance and love make the brain function better [source: Scientific American]. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology, the study found that the blood and 12 parts of the brain get pumped and fired up from attraction and the enjoyment of being in love [source: Scientific American]. So dating may increase the health of your neurotransmitters as well as the outer body that leads to attraction and getting them firing in the first place.
If all of this talk about romance, physical attraction and hand-holding is intimidating, even exploring some virtual dating may have benefits for your health. Using technology for getting to know people involves exercises in conversation, quick thinking and maybe even flat-out flirting that can keep the mind sharp and maybe get the body moving in preparation for an in-person meeting. It also restarts all of those social skills that may have been dormant for some second-time-around or first-time daters in a new stage of life. Having good and bad interactions online can be helpful and healthful by increasing self-esteem for real-world dating and relieving the stress of getting back into circulation, mentally and physically. So if you're ready to date again or to just get started, keep in mind that it can be good for the brain and the body. Even science endorses it.