Technology use by seniors has been increasing by the year. Although mobile devices may not be as ubiquitous among older adults as they are among other demographics, the Pew Research Center found that more than 40% of seniors report owning a smartphone and 32% own tablets. Seniors were slower to adopt the internet, but now 67% of older adults go online every day.
Seniors are joining social media, too. Over 30% of older adults have profiles on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and that number is only growing. According to some estimates, as many as 50 million seniors will adopt a social media platform by 2020.
It’s not hyperbolic to say that social media has rewired the way society functions and the way we connect with other people. It can be just as transformative for seniors. Considering that social isolation is linked to shorter lifespan and increased risk for chronic disease, social media use can be as beneficial for seniors’ physical health as it is for their emotional well-being.
The benefits of joining at least one social media platform include:
- Increased connection with family and friends — It can be difficult to stay in touch with family members and close friends who live out of state, or even a few hours away. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram not only allow seniors to exchange messages with loved ones, but to stay in the loop with daily photos and status updates.
- Reconnecting with old friends — It’s natural to fall out of touch with certain friends over the decades, as jobs, family, and life takes people in different directions. But there’s nothing like the joy of reconnecting with an old friend after years apart. Seniors can rediscover lost friends by searching for other people who graduated in their year, lived in their town, or worked at the same company.
- Participating in community events — Many social and volunteer groups use platforms like Facebook to make announcements and organize events. Being active on these platforms can help seniors stay involved in community activities, like a book club, bible study, or volunteering opportunities. Discover other ways seniors can get involved in the community.
- Staying informed about current events — People are increasingly relying on social media platforms to get their news. Scrolling through your newsfeed, you’ll encounter headlines for the major news events of the day, both in your local community and around the world. Using social media can help seniors stay informed about current events without reading the paper every morning.
Does the senior in your life have a social media account? If not, consider sitting down together to set one up. Help them upload a photo, fill out their profile, and get started by connecting with their closest friends and family members. Pretty soon they’ll be using the platform like a pro—and enjoying the many benefits that come with it.