Move Over Social Media-Here Comes The Senior Generation!
Take a second look and understand the benefits it has in their life and also in yours! Senior citizens are the fastest growing demographic on Facebook. For seniors this form of social media has enabled them to get in touch with long lost friends, see pictures of their grandchildren and learn more about the causes that mean something to them.
According to a study done by Pew Research Center in May of 2017 67 percent of adults over the age of 65 in the US were active online users. This is a significant jump from 2000 when only 14 percent of seniors reported to be internet users. Much of this can be attributed to the tech friendly technology that has been introduced along with the availability of computer training classes for seniors. Statistics project that by 2020 there will be over 50 million seniors using the social media platform! So, if you have loved ones that are not involved in social media please take a minute to read the many benefits it has to offer and then enjoy the experience of opening up a new world to them!
What are the Benefits of Social Media for Seniors?
· Avoid Isolation and Develop Friendships
Social media is a remarkable tool for keeping in touch with kids, grandkids and other family members as well as making them feel more of a part of their family by knowing what is going on in the lives of those that live far away. Seniors are enjoying finding old classmates from college, high school and elementary school as well as those from old neighborhoods. It affords them the opportunity to have conversations with those they never thought they would see again. Grandparents enjoy keeping up with the University their grandchildren are attending and being able to see their accomplishments as well as what their grandkids are involved it. This makes for more meaningful conversation when a grandparent is in the know! Many seniors are also making other online friends and sharing and exchanging thoughts and ideas through blogs and forums.
· Improvement in Mental Health
Along with helping to avoid the feelings of loneliness and isolation, there are other mental benefits of being involved in social media. Internet usage has been shown to improve brain activity in older adults. As reported by Gary Small, a geriatric psychiatrist and Alzheimer’s expert from UCLA he has seen how technology can enhance daily living by increasing the effectiveness and helping seniors’ function longer. Gary Small also conducted a study called “Your Brain on Google” and discovered that neural activity increases when an individual searches online. They observed adults between the ages of 55-76 and it revealed that even those with older brains had more neural activity when using the internet compared to those who didn’t. “Just a little practice searching online for an hour a day or a week resulted in a significant increase in brain activity” according to Gary Small.
Through the use of social media seniors can watch old television shows and find videos form “back in the day. In addition, they can read blog posts, read eBooks and articles and find out what their favorite entertainer is up to. One of the biggest entertainment sections for seniors is online game playing either by themselves or with family and friends. Seniors who are isolated or limited in getting around as well as they used to no longer have to feel lonely when they are at home.
· Health Benefits
In addition to helping with stimulating the brain and reducing isolation and loneliness as well as depressive symptoms there are additional health benefits for seniors using social media. Researches have found that using social media in addition to being mentally stimulating also satisfies basic social needs. Seniors use social media for health information and to connect with others experiencing the same challenges. They have started to discussion groups for life and health issues pertinent to them. From diabetes to dementia and depression all can give and receive support in the comfort of their home. Health professional groups have keyed into this demographic and setup social media pages to take advantage of this customer and patient outlet. The internet also makes them more independent in their health issues by allowing them to make online appointments and view test results.
Seniors use social media to learn more about topics that interest them. It can lead to helping them to cultivate a hobby and business idea, discover their genealogy and learn about new products. YouTube has proved to be an endless source of entertainment and a wealth of knowledge for seniors in the areas of cooking, home repair and traveling. Back in the day when seniors purchased a product, they were never really sure of how it would work. Today they are able to read reviews and make more informative purchasing decisions as well as participate in reviewing the products they have purchased which gives them a feeling of self-worth.
· Start a New Business/Grow and Existing Business
Being online allows people of all ages to begin a new business. Seniors are enjoying selling crafts, giving coaching advice, doing freelance writing and also some type of consulting work. Many seniors miss working and would love to get back into the work force but find they are met with a mentality from companies that they are “too old”. With social media and the many online productivity and networking tools, seniors no longer have to be forced into retirement. Those seniors that are still in business are able to keep up with new programs and technologies. Social media allows them to stay in the game and compete with younger businesses. They are able to use social media to connect and share their products, answer questions and promote events and sales.
Social Media is an excellent way for seniors to get engaged in activities in their community and to meet others. Perhaps a senior loved one has moved to a new area; social media has many Newcomer and Senior associations they can join to meet others with similar interests. The website meetup.com has been an invaluable resource for many seniors. In addition, there are senior dating sites they can join if they are interested in finding someone to share their time with.
As you can see there are many benefits for introducing the senior citizen in your life to Social Media! This is a terrific way of enriching their life and helping them through their senior years without feeling so lonely and isolated. In addition, you will find you enjoy their conversations much more as they are able to stay on top of all the fast-moving events of your busy family through postings on FB. No longer will they sit and wonder who the top teenage rock band is…. they will have already learned and been exposed to their music through social media thus enhancing the conversation with the teenage grandchildren.
Technology has become very user friendly through the introduction of tablets and cell phones. No longer do we require large spaces for computers in order to be online. They are many local organizations that offer computer and social media courses for seniors. Check your local AARP organization and community and religious groups for listings. Many of the AARP chapters partner with vendors for discounts on computer equipment. In addition, there is an online group called DorotUSA.org which has an entire program called University Without Walls specifically designed for seniors who are homebound where they get to participate in stimulating classes and lectures through their computer or tablet.
And the greatest benefit will be seeing the excitement and joy in your loved one’s eyes as they are introduced to the world of technology!!