Posted on 30/06/2016

How social media is helping adults in later life

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How social media is helping adults in later life

Today marks the 7th annual Social Media Day – a global event celebrating the digital revolution and recognising its impact on global communication.

However, older members of society are generally overlooked when it comes to social media, despite the fact that the attitudes of those who are 65 years+ are changing: with many living longer, staying active and becoming increasingly literate online.

Why seniors are going social

These days, older generations don’t just have an email account – they are also searching on Google, browsing Facebook newsfeeds and watching YouTube.
There are currently 39 million people aged 65 and older using Facebook, Twitter and Skype, making them the fastest growing age demographic on these sites.

But why are seniors going social?

  • 40% to connect with family and old friends
  • 30% to share photos
  • 20% for social gaming
  • 10% for contest and gaming

In particular, seniors are finding Twitter an easily accessible recourse for following streams of information, like news sources, health information and literary publications.

When it comes to Facebook, nearly two thirds of 50-64 year olds and 43% of those aged 65+ are members. Hundreds of classes each year train pensioners how to use Facebook, with an average of 80 students per class. 1 in 5 seniors using Facebook log on for an hour on any given day and, at 105 years young, Anne D.Krum was the oldest person on Facebook until her death in 2009.

The benefits of social media channels

The top four online sites for people over 60 are Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube, and it’s no coincidence that all four can be used as a tool to communicate with other people.

With over-65s estimated to spend an average of 80% of their time at home (90% for people over 85), studies have shown that the internet has become an important portal for reducing isolation and loneliness. Computer classes at senior centres are growing rapidly in popularity as they offer easy to follow training to get older adults emailing and using other social media platforms such as Facebook.

Older generations also use the internet to research health issues and connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges. From dementia to depression to diabetes — all can give and receive support in the comfort and convenience of their home. Some doctors have even started to set up online groups for older adults with specific ailments, or even their carers, who are increasingly finding support via this digital channel.

We’d love to know your thoughts and ideas as to how you believe social media and other digital mediums can be of benefits to older adults. Feel free to leave us a comment below.

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