The fastest growing segment of social networking on the internet is senior adults.
Hard to believe you say? Really?
It’s easier, of course, for small participation levels to grow faster than for those that are larger already.
We believe the statistics released recently from the Pew Research Center as we talk with so many boomers and caregivers every day who tell us how they use technology and social media to connect with people across the globe not just family and friends.
Seniors Connecting via Social Media & Staying There
Members of our community tell us about how their senior loved ones are connecting, ask questions about how to help them stay safe while connecting and what other opportunities for online benefit are available.
We talk daily with other caregivers offering support, advice and tips through social media in a variety of platforms or programs such as Facebook, Twitter and Google + but there are other sites as well and means of connecting.
According to data from the Pew Research Center, of all adults going online, 72% are networking using social media sites. That is almost three quarters of users! And that number continues to grow.
By way of comparison, in 2005 only 8% of adults going online were using social media networking sites. It seems at that time it was the realm of younger people.
Yes, Facebook is popular but it is more than that. The number of adults using Twitter has doubled in the past few years.
We knew that young adults were early adopters of social media networking sites and that trend continues as older adults join the party! Six out of ten internet users ages 50-64 are joining the party and 43% of those over 65 are joining. Their numbers continue to lag behind the younger set but they are catching up fast!
While the largest users of Twitter are still younger adults, 18% of seniors are Tweeting. We have seen that for ourselves. Do you tweet? We do and you can tweet with us using @SrCareCorner.
What the Social Networking Trend Means for Seniors
We are excited about the growth in seniors connecting via social media because of what it can mean to their lives and to us as their family caregivers. He is just some of how it can make a difference to them.
- Using social media allows seniors to connect whenever they wish with family and friends, whether nearby or across the globe. Our family has been using Facebook to communicate with family in Korea and we have been facilitating the seniors in the family to network on Facebook. They are enjoying the ability to connect without worrying about the cost of long distance phone bills as they would have had to do in years past.
- Getting discounts and coupons from local merchants. When we help seniors ‘like’ businesses on social network sites they become eligible for discounts, learn of sales and get invited to events they would never know about. This helps those living on a budget enjoy their favorite restaurants and shopping.
- Sharing pictures and home videos with family. After the birth of our first grandchild, who lives a whole state away from us, we get a picture a day via the web as well as videos of her shenanigans and milestones, something we can share with the whole family via social media. We also get to visit via FaceTime and talk to her directly whenever she is in the mood to share. Again, in the past this would have meant long distance phone calls, missing out on first steps and seeing the grandkids grow up without being part of the action.
- It can provide peace of mind for long distance family caregivers who can also use Skype or FaceTime to see for themselves how their senior loved ones are really doing — going beyond the “fine” they might otherwise get on the phone or in notes. They can see if they are caring for themselves, if their mental abilities continue to allow aging in place or if the environment looks safe by checking in face to face. They can hear the sound of their voice and see the expression in their eyes as they talk. It can allow for quicker action if things aren’t as they should be before tragedy occurs and you get a call from the Emergency Room.
- Increases socialization for our seniors, who can engage and connect with others and reduce the likelihood of isolation and depression. Boredom can put them at risk for unsafe choices that can lead to injury, but keeping their minds sharp and attentive through social networking will help to reduce boredom.
- Current research is showing many physical and cognitive benefits, not only from internet usage but social networking for our seniors. We learn more all the time about the positive health benefits staying engaged gives to our seniors.
Get Senior Loved Ones Connected
Connecting via social media and the internet has become easier with a bit of set up. You can help your senior join the party by helping them get connected – which can mean hardware (computer, tablet, smartphone) and the actual link to the web – showing them how to participate safely and helping them with security issues so you can rest assured they will share safely.
Social networking will provide a common activity for you, your senior loved one and the whole family family. It can connect them with their community, church friends and support systems. They can learn about health information and maybe even view the latest You Tube viral video just for fun!
We would love to hear how your senior connects through social media! Please share with us and our community, like our Facebook page and tweet with us! We can’t wait to connect with you and your seniors!