Social Media and the Elderly

Jul 20, 2017

Social Media and the Elderly

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There is an uptick in senior citizens using social media and experts are saying that there are many benefits to the increasing trend. Although more than 90 percent of young people are on social media, a study released in 2015 by Pew Research Center found that 35 percent of adults over the age of 65 years said that they too are using social media now. This statistic is nearly triple what was reported in 2010 when only 11 percent of those surveyed above the age of 65 were using social media. There’s no clear reason for the sudden increase in social media and the elderly, but it appears that seniors are catching onto how much fun can be found on the internet. Although the number of seniors using social media continues to increase, others are still rolling their eyes at all of the young people constantly clicking around on their smart phones and don’t want any part of it. Yet, there are many benefits to the use of social media, and the elderly should explore the idea of using it to build relationships, stay connected to their families, and as a way to learn and research new things.    

Benefits of Social Media and the Elderly

The use of social media can be very beneficial to senior citizens who understand how to use it. Although learning something new can often be challenging, some benefits of social media use in seniors include improved cognitive abilities, decreased feelings of loneliness and the obvious, a source of entertainment. Below, we dive deeper into these social media benefits for the elderly.

1.     Improved Cognitive Abilities

There are classes available through the AARP to teach seniors how to use social media and stay safe on the internet. This makes it easier for those who are hesitant to use social media to jump on the bandwagon.

Learning a new skill can be challenging intellectually, so it’s no surprise that a UK study found that social media is actually improving the health of seniors. For example, 120 adults over the age of 65 were studied over the course of two years. Some were assigned computer training, while others did not receive any computer knowledge. Those who were surfing the web experienced an improvement in their mental and physical capacities, while the other group that did not participate in computer training experienced a steady decline in those skills. 

2.     Decreased Loneliness

Seniors are using social media to connect with old friends, stay in touch with their children, and grandchildren and even to meet new people. There are many benefits to grandparent-grandchildren relationships, and what better way to connect with younger generations than to communicate with them online as they are used to doing these days? Although it’s not your traditional use of communication, such as stopping by someone’s house to say hi or giving them a phone call, the use of social media is actually working to decrease the feeling of loneliness that often plagues people in their older age. They’re able to share their thoughts and experiences online, as well as read about what other people are thinking and experiencing as well. This helps them to feel more connected to the outside world, even when they may often be stuck inside alone. It is very important for the elderly to have social interaction, and social media is an easy way for them to interact with others without having to go anywhere! 

3.     Entertainment 

As most of us would agree, social media use is entertaining. Seniors can watch YouTube videos, Skype with their grandchildren who may be far away, play games, shop, and catch up on reading all of the latest news articles while they browse online. They can also be entertained by the endless selfies their grandchildren are likely posting, and social media is a good way for elderly to spy – or keep an eye – on what their family members are up to. Social media, and the internet in general, is also an endless source of education for seniors. They are using social media and the internet to look information up online, such as where to find senior housing or how to cope with aging and the changes it causes both directly and indirectly. They’re also finding jobs and volunteer opportunities online, as well as articles that are written just for them – like this one! Some elderly people are even starting their own businesses online. With social media and the elderly – the possibilities are endless!

Are you over the age of 65 and using social media? What’s your favorite online pastime?

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