Nightly News | April 12, 2013
>> after several years of not that much technological growth, america's seniors are turning to computer use more than ever before. the folks at the pugh research center says the gains are significant. one of the reasons may be this stat from the aarp which estimates roughly half of all grandparents in this country live at least 400 miles away from the grand kids. as chris jansing reports they are prompted by the simple motive of keeping in touch.
>> are you clicking?
>> reporter: the trials and tribulations of tech challenged seniors have become the stuff of youtube sensation.
>> why won't it take a picture? [ speaking in a foreign language ]
>> reporter: and fodder for funny commercials. but an ipad is an awfully expensive cutting board .
>> reporter: seniors are flocking to classes to get up to social media speed.
>> my social friends want me to tweeter and twit.
>> reporter: in california this session is focused on connecting with friends and family through facebook.
>> they send me things. i think i have responded and i haven't. i don't get any responses back.
>> click on it and drag it.
>> reporter: slowly but surely, seniors are embracing social media . for the first time ever last year more than half of seniors were online. a third now use social media websites.
>> wow, i love that.
>> reporter: interactive video programs like skype and facetime are building a base of silver surfers like barbara zack in florida who uses it to connect to far away family.
>> i can watch my grandchildren grow up. i can watch them in their daily lives. that, to me, is priceless.
>> reporter: in ohio, nancy lemon learned to text when her teenage grandson stopped answering his phone.
>> when i get a message from him saying "i love you" it makes it all worth it.
>> reporter: there is growing research that these connections are good for seniors' health. one study found getting tech smart can improve cognitive abilities. senior centers and college programs are helping to meet the growing demand for classes around the down oh tri.
>> if you can't beat them, join them.
>> reporter: even if there are bumps in the learning curve along the way.
>> there's something wrong.
>> reporter: chris jansing , nbc news, new york.