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Meet the Italian grandmothers enjoying huge success on TikTok

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The TikTok app logo appears in Tokyo on Sept. 28, 2020.
The TikTok app logo appears in Tokyo on Sept. 28, 2020.   -   Copyright  Kiichiro Sato / AP
By Josephine Joly  & Luca Palamara

Elderly women at a daycare centre in Italy have been engaging with youngsters on social media platform TikTok in a bid to fight off depression and loneliness. 

Until now, terms such as "followers", "likes", "influencers" -- common on social media -- wouldn't have meant anything to the women at the centre in Capri, near Modena in northern Italy.

But that's now changed as the grandmothers have clocked up 10,000 followers by producing videos for the younger generation. 

The initiative at SCAI Cooperative started during the pandemic when some of the centre's elderly started to show signs of depression and loneliness.

Director Ilario de Nittis said they used to have projects where the elderly and young could spend time together but that it had become difficult amid COVID-19. 

"We embraced the use of TikTok as a pilot project, to see if it was possible to bring back that happiness and that involvement. I mean, that feeling of being alive again within the community," De Nittis told Euronews.

The daycare centre is privately supported by the families living in the area, so the ties with the local community were already deep.

But they are even stronger now that the elderly can meet the youngsters on the platform. 

"We are very happy because they can see the place where we are. Those outside are very happy to see us here living happily, treated well and respected," said Adriana Michelini, one of the elderly at the centre. 

Tutorials on Christmas decorations or exercising and greetings people outside made them unexpectedly famous.

When Maurizia Po was asked if she knew she was a famous grandmother now, she replied: "Am I a famous grandmother? A famous Po. Where did you get this story from?"

In a video posted on social media, the tech-savvy grandmothers are thanking everybody for their record number of followers, but they are determined, it seems, to get even more.