That's the idea behind cyber-grandparenting. An online community of over 600 elders dispenses advice to young people through Elder Wisdom Circle, a website that connects younger generations seeking advice with elders willing and able to give it.
Doug Meckelson founded the Elder Wisdom Circle in 2001.
"What we do is match seniors between the ages of 60 to about 105 who have advice and wisdom to share with younger generations who have problems in their lives and are looking for some empathetic and caring advice," Meckelson says in a YouTube promotional video.
As a nonprofit, the Elder Wisdom Circle receives Google AdWords advertising, which has helped the organization gain tremendous exposure to web-surfers looking for a few words of wisdom. Last fall Mechelson estimated that the nonprofit had received over 20,000 requests for advice.
One cyber-grandparent says that she's written over 400 replies to online advice-seekers.
The website appears to be a win-win for those seeking help with life problems, and for seniors who want to share their hard-earned wisdom with younger generations.
"I see eldering as really trying to share insights, share perspectives, and share experiences," said one member of the elder circle.
Who's looking for advice, and what kind of advice are they seeking? The site attracts all ages — from teens to 40-year-olds — looking for help with career decisions, concerns about children, and family and marriage issues. On the Elder Wisdom Circle website, you can peruse the letters and elder responses, ask for advice, or offer advice.
Personally, I think Meckelson's on to something. He's filling a void that has been created by our fast-paced, geographically and technologically divided world. This passing-on of guidance and advice is a natural part of the aging process and an essential component of any well-balanced society.
Sure, in an ideal world we'd share these stories and life lessons over a cup of tea or on a walk through the woods, but you've got to work with what you've got. And in this case, the Internet is the obvious alternative.