Social media is a warm gathering place, allowing people of all generations to connect, communicate, and share mutual interests. Pop culture has misunderstood the paced adoption of social media by seniors, mistakenly labeling it as something only a younger generation can use. Nevertheless, many seniors are adapting and learning how to use sites like Facebook, Instagram, Skype, and Twitter. In fact, data suggests more seniors are using social media every day than those who read their daily newspaper.According to the Pew Research Center, a rapidly growing demographic group for social media use is people of age 65 and older. The study also showed 34 percent of seniors use social media sites. Some estimates show that by 2020, as many as 50 million seniors will adopt a social media platform, and there are no signs of slowing down.
Today, social media networks can be easily accessed through a smartphone, computer, or tablet. Here are the biggest reasons that seniors are turning to social:
Social media can be used to share experiences and keep in touch with family members. Though loved ones might be stretched out across the country, social media and those important family events are only a click away. Video chatting networks like Skype allow you to see family members and be part of their lives. Picture sharing sites like Instagram can help you see a near limitless collection of kids, grandchildren, and former classmates.
There are also some key health benefits for social media use, since studies have shown that it might help reduce isolation, loneliness, and depressive symptoms. Getting out of the house to spend time with loved ones can be difficult, especially for adults with mobility challenges (check out our guide for transportable electric wheelchairs). Nevertheless, older adults who use social media regularly perform better intellectually and show signs of improved health. Researchers have also found that the use of social media is mentally stimulating and “satisfies basic social needs.“
Although younger generations might suggest that older generations have trouble when it comes to technology, older generations are proving those stereotypes wrong. Social media can help you find something in common to talk about, from funny viral videos to current events. It can also help grandparents know what kind of music is popular among younger generations, or when the new Taylor Swift album will be released.
Social networks can be used to follow and learn about topics you enjoy such as cooking, health, traveling, etc. There is a blog or social media page for every subject you can possibly imagine. Some seniors have even found discussion forums that allow them to discuss mutual experiences.
Twitter allows users to stay in touch with local events. With a quick search, the app will show you what topics are trending and will redirect you to popular articles it has available. This might be one of the simplest ways to get caught up on important issues happening near you.
If you’re feeling apprehensive about who can view your posts and pictures on social media, know that each of these sources has privacy protections for your benefit. These sharing permissions can be fine tuned for your protection and privacy. Generally speaking, you can be as visible – or invisible – as you want, without skipping social media altogether.
For example, Instagram offers users the option to make your profile private, meaning that only people you approve as friends can view your posts. Additionally, if at any point you feel that other users you follow might not post proper content you can block them and report posts as inappropriate. This way you’re in control of all activity you might see on your daily social media updates.
Social media can be a fun way to keep in touch with family members that are miles away, and it can help you connect with like-minded people. If you need a little help, don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member. Again, it could be great bonding.
If you want more formal training, check out DOROT. DOROT’s mission is to “alleviate social isolation and provide concrete services to older adults,” and the organization is now offering computer courses designed for seniors. These helpful programs can easily be accessed from the comfort of your home with a computer and a phone.
Using social media can be an easy way to add some social time your daily routine. If you like this content, please share it with your social network. Remember, savvy seniors always stay connected!