Social Media has ushered in a whole new era of human connectivity, one spanning generations and continents that has made our world feel a whole lot smaller. The phenomenon is not reserved to the young: seniors are increasingly taking to social media platforms to connect with old friends, meet new ones, engage in community and popular discussions, and share updates in their personal lives.
To be sure, there are barriers to social media use for the senior population, namely an inherent unfamiliarity with the platforms and the ever-evolving nature of said platforms. Also, the use of many apps and platforms generally requires good eyesight and hearing, though social platforms like Facebook – one of the most commonly used by seniors – have implemented tools to aid those living with impairments. Some individuals may also hold privacy concerns, which are perfectly valid. However, the upsides for seniors brought by the connectivity and enrichment possibilities of social media far outweigh any drawbacks.
In many instances, seniors are unable to visit and socialize with their loved ones as much as they’d like, and technology and social media have helped bridge that gap. In addition to helping seniors interact and share with friends and family in ways not possible over the phone, social media offers a platform for seniors to locate and reach out to old friends whose phone numbers they may no longer have or remember.
Platforms like Facebook provide a place to view old photos and clips from favorite TV programs no longer on air that spark memories from long ago. It’s a fact of life that social circles shrink as we age and loved ones move or pass away. Social media offers a (free!) way to open up and expand that social network and access the support and stimulation it offers.
We talked about embracing a hobby or interest in another recent post, and social media groups or chat rooms are another great way to do so. Facebook and Pinterest are full of communities based upon an activity or interest, whether it’s astronomy, sewing, interior design, model trains, sea glass collecting… you name it. Digital access to these clubs and groups provides another forum for seniors to engage with and discuss things that they find interesting. It offers an opportunity to meet new people, forge new friendships and learn new things.
On a less serious note, social media can simply be a fun and entertaining space. While some of us may find it a hard-to-quit distraction from the work we really should be doing, cat videos and celebrity singalongs are fun and light and may just be a nice way for your loved one to pass some time, laugh a bit and feel connected to what is going on in popular culture.
Though there may be some small hurdles to overcome in keeping seniors on top of new technology and social media platforms, the benefits are tremendous, and seniors who begin to engage with technology and social media often take off running (figuratively, of course!). These platforms have transformed the world we live in and the way we interact with the people in it – it’s an enriching experience that seniors should share!