There’s no denying that social media is almost inextricable from our daily lives. Even though many of us find it beneficial, the negative implications of social media are often talked about, and rarely are the benefits discussed. We’re all aware of the negative effects of social media, such as causing depression, creating anxiety, and facilitating cyberbullying. But, for older adults, the positive implications of social media use can far outweigh the negatives.

Older Adults and Social Media Use

Pew Research Center notes that while it’s the younger crowd who uses social media the most, older adults’ usage has also increased in recent years. Even though they are slower to adapt to new technology, social media is changing their lives for the better. However, it should be noted that in today’s society, mastering digital technology is of the utmost importance. This is a struggle for older adults as they do not always have access to training that can help them keep up with the latest trends. Tech Crunch highlights how if they are not given ample training, we’re effectively shutting them out from society, amplifying an already worrisome trend of isolation and loneliness among the elderly.

Still, those who manage to keep up and engage in social media find that it benefits them. Freelance writer and digital consultant Lanre Onibalusi notes that social media is one-way seniors remain socially engaged, especially with their family members and friends who are based in another city, state, or even country. While no technology can ever compensate for in-person interaction, social networks are a great alternative for seniors to interact with the people they care about. And now that we’re in a time where physical contact is all the more challenging, having “virtual visits” through the use of programs like Facetime and Skype allows the elderly to chat with their friends and family, which can then decrease the likelihood of social isolation.

The Main Advantages

Another main boon of social media for seniors is that it allows them to keep tabs on the latest trends. After all, everything new and trendy is mostly found online these days, and discovering these things through influencers across a variety of platforms can be an exciting pastime. Lifestyle blogger Jane Adamson details how social media influencers affect the digital space with the way they awe, inform, and entertain viewers. As a senior who may be looking for a niche subject or an expert to follow, this may be a good place to start learning more about their interests. Influencers can help them look for and learn about specific things, including hobbies like cross-stitching, knitting, and arts and crafts.

It may be more difficult for seniors to keep up with technology and social media, but as Senior Tech Club highlighted, the use of social media helps them stay engaged with life, and maintain relationships with other people, as well as find multiple sources of social support.

exclusively written for mennonitevillage.org
by Risa Jill