Think You’re Too Old for Social Media?

Over the last several years, older adults have been the fastest growing segment of the online population. More and more people over the age of 60 are going online and using Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Youtube. They are emailing, texting and blogging—and it is having a positive impact on their lives as they are communicating more frequently with family, reconnecting with old friends, keeping up with community developments and managing their health issues.

Think you’re too old for social media?  Don’t let anyone tell you that, because it’s not possible!

Survey after survey reflects that more and more senior Americans, including those in the most elderly groups, are participating in social media — though their numbers still lag behind other age groups.  They are jumping onboard Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and more as they realize it is fun and provides real benefits.

Are your senior loved ones participating?  We can think of several reasons for them to do so, especially for those living on their own. But the benefits are strong for all seniors regardless of their living situation:

1. Social Media Can Keep Families Close

“I wish I heard more often from my children/grandchildren” is a common concern of seniors.  You’d think that with seemingly everyone carrying their own phone, calls to senior loved ones would be more common than ever.  However, those phones are used less for making phone calls than for connecting by other means, particularly social media.  More and more seniors are realizing that going where their family members are going, most frequently Facebook, makes it easier to link up and keep up with what is going on in the lives of loved ones.  It also makes for more frequent and comfortable conversations between generations than most would experience if the phones were used simply for calls.  So, yes, the first reason social media is for seniors is to stay closer to family.

2. Social Photo and Video Sharing

With the overwhelming majority of photographs now digital, sharing of memories is now easier than ever through social media.  More and more pictures are shared every day by users of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social media sites.  Grandparents can go online now and see pictures taken by their grandchildren, creating a feeling of closeness that was never possible with mailed photos.

Home movies have always brought family to life even more than photos, but video sharing took effort and saw delays, even with video cameras and VCRs.  With many phones now coming with a video camera, even more videos are being taken by family members and, like pictures, being quickly posted online.  Seniors are now getting fresh “home movies” on You Tube, Facebook and other sites.

3. Coupons and Other Discounts

Everyone likes saving money, not just seniors, though for many older Americans on fixed incomes getting a deal is essential and not just a fun thing to do.  Social media provides access to many opportunities to save money, whether it’s discount offerings by companies on their Facebook pages, coupons shared between Twitter users, or the deals offered in many communities on Groupon, just to name a few.  Not only can going social be fun, but profitable as well.

4. Peace of Mind

Seniors and their families often live far apart today, which can lead to anxiety on both sides, particularly when the older family members are living on their own.  We have all heard, or even experienced, stories of elderly family members falling in their homes, missing critical prescription drugs, or going without eating for days — all without any knowing until it became a serious problem.  Social media gives seniors and their families a convenient way to check in daily, or with whatever frequency is desired, creating peace of mind on both ends of the communications.

5. Community Belonging

The importance of socializing as part of a community cannot be overstated, particularly for seniors spending much of their time living isolated at home.  Social media provides the opportunity to have and be a friend, to congregate without leaving the house, to never be alone even when you are the only one in the house.