Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults
Seniors Making Social Networking an Integral Part of Their Lives

Seniors Making Social Networking an Integral Part of Their Lives

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Facebook, other social networking sites and the web in general are changing the lives of our senior loved ones, just as they are for many of us. No, we aren’t being overly dramatic in saying that. It’s already happening.

A quarter of US seniors are likely using at least one of the social media sites, a number that is growing quickly. While that doesn’t sound like much, it’s 40% of seniors who are connected to the web, as Pew found in a recent survey, and probably more by now. This is a statistic we’re thrilled to see moving in the right direction, both for our senior loved ones and us.

While seniors do lag other age groups in their participation generally on the web and especially on social networking sites, Twitter is a remarkable exception. Believe it or not, web-active seniors are more likely than web users overall to be users of Twitter (from Pew’s 9/2012 report Photos and Videos as Social Currency Online). While 16% of internet users reported being active on Twitter, the number was 17% for seniors, higher than for any age group other than 18-29 year olds. We’re going to look for more discussion of that activity and will report further.

Seniors Talking Politics on Social Networks

What are our senior loved ones doing on Facebook and Twitter (their participation is much lower than other age groups for Pinterest and Instagram, picture sharing networks)? Not surprisingly, the recent election was behind a good deal of their social networking activity, as it was for other age groups (again, using results from Pew Research).

  • 14% of seniors who are registered voters used social media to announce their choice for President, compared to 22% of registered voters overall.
  • 9% of senior registered voters used social media to encourage others to vote for one of the candidates, just under half the overall activity.
  • Interestingly, seniors were much less likely to be encouraged by others to vote via social media, with 11% reporting that was the case, compared to 30% overall.

Seniors Sharing Photos & Video

There is a real indication seniors are using the web to share photos and video, one benefit we noted of using social media, and bringing many closer to friends and family.

  • 29% of senior internet users reported sharing over the web photos and video they took, compared to 46% overall.
  • A smaller share of senior internet users, 20%, are curators of photos and video via the web, sharing those created by others, compared to 41% of all internet users.

Yes, we’re just scratching the surface here, but it’s not our intent to overwhelm you with statistics. It IS our intent to show that seniors are becoming active in social media, networking and sharing their lives with others. If your older loved ones aren’t yet doing so, you can report that many of their peers are doing so and reaping the benefits of social media already.

Do your senior loved ones need some encouragement from you to get on the web and social media? With the growing number of tablets, smartphones with larger screens, and competitively-priced computers – a growing number with touchscreens – chances are even better you’ll find the right device, the one your loved one will enjoy using. Even better, the prices continue to fall!

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