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Social Media and Older Adults

The use of social media is significantly increasing among older adults with the 50 years and older group being the fastest growing demographic segment on the Internet. In fact, Internet users over the age of 55 are leading the growth in social network usage, according to a recent report from Nielsen, State of the Media: The Social Media Report. The infographic below indicates that seniors are joining Facebook, Twitter, and more, proving older adults are not too old for social media!

Social Media Infographic
Source:  www.koeppeldirect.com

There are many benefits older adults receive from participating in social media, including keeping in close contact with busy and/or distant family members, socializing with friends and community members, and sharing photos and videos.  During a recent visit to my home, I had the opportunity to describe Facebook to my 90 year old mother.  We spent the evening viewing pages of family members and friends but my mom especially enjoyed looking at the photo albums of my relatives and reminiscing about the past.  Our time together confirmed the benefit of social media in helping older adults feel connected to important people in their lives.

So, how do we help seniors get connected?  According to Senior Care Corner, there are a number of steps family members can take to ensure their older loved one enjoys the benefits of social media: 

  1. Give them the gift of technology, which starts with choosing the right device. See the following podcast for important criteria in selecting the best device:   
  2. Arrange online access, whether it is through cable TV, home phone companies, or a cell phone provider
  3. Set up access to the desired social networks
  4. Establish privacy settings and practices
  5. Communicate with them one a regular basis, so they get familiar with using the technology

There are resources available to help older adults learn about technology options. One useful tool is provided by Eldercare Locator at the following link:

AARP provides another great tool for new users on its website, Social Media Education Center, which offers education on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Social Video, Pinterest, and Blogging Basics.  Check it out at the following link:

If you would like more information or have a comment about older adults and social media, please contact me at jane.strommen@ndsu.edu.

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