When most of us think of social media, we think almost exclusively of young people. If you’re a businessperson, you might think of digital marketing, but you still see young people doing it. Would it surprise you to know that the fastest-growing demographic for social media use is the over-65 population? In 2013, 43% of senior citizens were using some form of social media, and that number continues to grow. That’s right, senior citizens and social media are no longer mutually exclusive ideas. Not only does social media use have some important benefits for seniors, it’s becoming easier to learn thanks to new social media training online and at local senior centers.
Social Media has Health Benefits?
Yes, it does! According to a new 2015 study, loneliness is as dangerous to physical health as obesity or smoking, and it’s a huge problem for those over the age of 65. Studies have shown that using social media increases feelings of social connectedness. This indicates that social media, for seniors, can help to mitigate the effects of loneliness by helping them to feel more connected to friends and family. That said, many older adults might need social media training on how to use it effectively — and not only in terms of how to sign up for Twitter or like someone’s Facebook post. Privacy settings are also a huge part of learning to navigate social media safely, and even younger users have had problems with that!
Finding Jobs, Support, and Purpose
Older adults aren’t just using social media to stay in touch with family and friends. They are also using it to find jobs on LinkedIn. So many job resources have moved to online posting that older people looking for work need to go online just to find good opportunities. But that’s still not all: seniors increasingly use social media to join support groups and search out volunteer opportunities. They’re reaching out to contribute to society, and society is beginning to take note.
Social Media Training Programs
If you haven’t heard of Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), they are leading the charge on technology training for older people. OATS partners with AARP and local community centers to bring technology training to older adults, including social media training for seniors.
AARP itself also has an online education center specifically for different types of social media, including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and Google Hangouts, and social videos. In fact, once older adults feel comfortable with social media, studies show that they become nearly as hooked as the rest of us: 71% go online every day, 81% go online weekly, and 56% note that they would find it “very hard” to give up the internet.
Thanks in part to training programs and the increasingly focus in technology on easy-to-use interfaces, senior citizen social media use is expected to continue growing as more baby boomers join the 65+ population.
If you have an older loved one in your life, do they use social media? If you are over 65 yourself, do you take advantage of its benefits? Share your stories in the comments below.