Social media is a valuable tool connecting people from all over the globe. It can be a place to form friendships or have fun without leaving home. Many older adults have made at least one social media account to connect with family and friends. Recent surveys show 45% of adults 65 and older use social media. By learning the benefits of social media for older adults and a few tips to get started, you can have a positive experience with these networks.
What Is Social Media?
Social media includes any platform to share information, thoughts, or ideas online. A few common examples are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Most users find social media helpful for connecting with family or finding friends with similar interests.
The Benefits of Social Media for Older Adults
While younger users commonly appear on social platforms, these online tools can also create excellent opportunities for older adults. A Pew Research Study found social media use in older adults has increased fourfold since 2010 while usage for younger age groups has stayed relatively steady. This shows that the social media space for older adults is growing and that you're more likely now to find other users of the same age and interests as you. Moreover, here are more social media benefits and some reasons to consider joining social media as an older adult.
Connect With Family
As we age, we may leave home less frequently, meaning we desire more opportunities to connect with family. Family members living in different states make it difficult to stay in touch. Social media lets you see pictures from their daily life and message family members to update them about your activities.
Social networks can also give caregivers peace of mind that their parents or loved ones are within reach. It can be one more connection between the two of you.
Make New Friends or Connect With Old Ones
Your social network involves all your conversations and relationships with others. As we grow older, our social circles may shrink. We lose the social interactions we had at work, may not see friends as often, and lose acquaintances to life changes. Social media opens new possibilities for making friends or staying in contact with your current ones.
Protect Your Health
Social interaction can keep us healthier. Studies show that individuals with quality social relationships had:
- Better mental health
- Lower risk of physical health conditions
- Decreased mortality risk
Even maintaining social connections online can improve physical and mental health for older adults, potentially allowing them to live independently for longer.
Learn New Things
Social media provides an almost endless supply of information. You can use news articles on Twitter or Facebook to stay updated on worldwide current events. Social media like YouTube can also provide informational content through engaging videos. You can connect with communities that share your interests to learn about classes and educational events that will allow you to continue learning.
The resources you find online using social media can also make you a better advocate for your health. You may even have access to doctors and individuals who share your condition for advice and reassurance. You can talk to peers and communicate together and spread information that may be helpful to yourself or others.
If you have limited mobility, you may seek activities you can do from the comfort of your favorite chair. Social media offers plenty of options. You can browse funny memes, catch up with friends, read articles, and play online games with others. You can also connect with groups, such as those local to your community or who share a specific interest, such as a hobby. With these endless opportunities, you have plenty to do to fill your spare time.
Inspire Civic Engagement
Social media has long been a tool for building social awareness about issues. You can use it to address the topics that concern your age group and the subjects that matter to you. You can drive meaningful change in your community without leaving home to participate in civic events.
Getting Started With Social Media for Older Adults
Social media can bring many positives to our lives. Here are a few tips for getting started to have an enjoyable and safe online experience.
Decide Which Network to Use
When deciding on social networks for seniors, many options are available. You can start by choosing one network and expand to multiple once you get the hang of it. Here are a few social media networks you might enjoy:
- Facebook: This site is the most popular, making it an excellent choice for beginners looking to stay in touch with loved ones.
- Pinterest: You can find many crafts and hobbies on this site, keeping you entertained when living independently.
- Instagram: See photo updates from your loved ones and share your photos too.
- YouTube: This platform allows you to find videos of almost anything, whether you seek entertainment or education.
Determine How Big to Make Your Circle
Sites like Facebook and Instagram allow you to connect with an unlimited number of people, but you may desire to keep your group smaller. You may only use social media to follow close friends and family.
Over time, you might slowly expand your circle, especially if you enjoy online social interaction. As you connect with more people online, try to limit your friend groups to people you know in real life to stay safer.
Be Aware of Scams and Privacy Concerns
Scammers often look for people who are less familiar with online environments and the latest fraud schemes. As you join social media, you can follow a few tips to stay safer:
- Trust your suspicion when a situation seems off, and delete or block sketchy messages or posts
- Ask questions or turn to your family for expertise in situations where you are unsure
- Do not share private information online through social media posts or messaging
- If it sounds like fake information, it most likely is!
Increase Comfort When Living Alone With Medical Alert Devices
As an older adult living alone, social media can be an excellent way to stay in touch with family. You can also use medical alert devices from Medical Guardian to increase your safety. These devices allow you to press a button and speak with a life safety consultant who can connect you with the right help when you need it.