The signs are hard to miss, even though they are showing up even earlier this year: stores of all kinds displaying holiday decorations, holiday sales ads on TV, and Santa taking children’s wishes in many malls.
Yes, it’s time again to wrack our brains on that annual question: “what do we give our grandparents and parents for Christmas” this year?
We try so hard to come up with something that is both appreciated by them (yes, they say everything we give them is appreciated, but…) and useful to them — and usually end up feeling like we have fallen short.
Senior Care Corner® suggests giving the Gift of Social Media this year.
The Gift of Social Media for Grandma (or Grandpa, Mom, or Dad) is one of those rare gifts that truly keeps on giving year-round to both the recipients and givers of the gift.
We have seen recent studies indicating as many as half of seniors use social networking sites, the most with Facebook and YouTube, which still leaves a lot more candidates. Even among that half, though, it is likely many are worried about using social media due to security breaches, when safe practices can reassure them.
Why Social Media as a Gift?
As we have discussed in prior posts, there are many benefits to seniors of being active on social networks, whether Facebook (by far the most accessed), YouTube, Instagram, or one of many others.
- Keeping families close, making it possible for many seniors to chat and keep up with their children, grandchildren, siblings, and extended family.
- Photo and video sharing, with social networks making it quicker and easier than ever to share pictures and movies with loved ones and friends.
- Community Belonging, giving seniors the ability to socialize and stay abreast of current events from the comfort of home.
- Peace of Mind, keeping the growing number of seniors preferring or needing to live in their homes a convenient way to check-in regularly with loved ones and healthcare providers.
- Coupons and other Discounts, linking seniors to the online offerings of retailers and service providers.
- Brain and memory exercise, helping to keep seniors’ brains young.
Helping loved ones understand the benefits they can expect is likely to encourage the effort needed to create a social networking habit.
Social Media Safety is Crucial
Safe use of social media sites has always been important, but never more so than today, with all the stories we hear of breaches and the fear it has created in many users.
There are a number of keys to helping senior loved ones use social networking sites safely — and feel safe doing so.
- Establish safe passwords that can’t be guessed from information about your senior that is publicly available. You may suggest they give a couple of trusted individuals their password so it can be retrieved easily if forgotten. Help them change it periodically as well.
- Provide the social networking sites the minimum personal information needed in order to use the site. When the seemingly inevitable data breach occurs, the less information included the better.
- Limit access to posts appropriately. Utilize the social network’s settings to ensure information posted is only seen by desired audiences.
- Post with caution on the sites. Don’t include such things as personal information that may be used to steal an identity, private health information, provide financial data, or divulge when nobody is going to be home at your senior’s house.
- Click with caution, avoiding any links in social media posts (just as with email) that are not absolutely trusted and do not respond to requests for information unless certain they are from a trusted friend or family member. A bank, insurance company, or the IRS will not request private information through social media posts.
Remember, social media safety is not a “set it and forget it” act, but a continuing process. It must be practiced each day and even updated as social network settings change, which they seem to do all too frequently.
Giving the Gift of Social Media
Giving the Gift of Social Media is more than signing up your senior loved ones for Facebook or showing them how to access YouTube videos and can be part of a truly memorable family experience.
- Arranging online access, where needed, often through cable TV or home phone companies or a cell phone provider.
- Choosing the right device(s) for your loved one. Popular options include computers, tablets and smartphones. Some devices are targeted to seniors and their specific needs.
- Setting up access to desired social networks. It might be beneficial to survey family members and check around with your senior’s outside interests to see which networks would be most valuable.
- Establishing privacy settings and practices (very important!).
- Communicating with loved ones on a regular basis to form and keep the habit, not to mention staying close to them.
The Gift of Social Media is truly a gift for the entire family.
We hope you’ll join us in promoting the Gift of Social Media and consider giving the gift to the senior loved ones in your life!