7 Benefits of Social Media for Older Adults
Social media is a website where people all over the world gather to socialize over the internet. It’s a large online community where people create a network of friends and acquaintances. Most platforms allow to set up gatherings, grassroots movements, charity funds, and many other social movements that can take place in the real world.
Humans are social beings and need the company of others; that’s why we invented social media. It’s an excellent way to keep up with distant family, relatives, and friends. More so, these sites allow you to stay in touch with businesses, organizations, and many other points of interest.
Sure, social media shouldn’t be an exclusive way of socialization. The platform keeps everybody connected virtually to allow the possibility of meeting up and spending quality time together. Unfortunately, that’s not possible in some cases where distance, money, and time schedules are too problematic. Nevertheless, technology helps us bridge the gaps through chat rooms and voice/video calls that are readily-available through social media.
Older adults and seniors could greatly benefit from social media. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) chairwoman, Lisa Marsh Ryerson, explains how 40% of people over 65 experience considerable loneliness. The pandemic exacerbates these stats as social distance, lockdowns, and curfews prevent social gatherings. Here’s where social media can help. The only issue is that not everybody’s proficient in operating a computer and navigating the internet. Statistics show that almost 30% of people over 65 don’t use the internet. Unfortunately, digital illiteracy isn’t the only cause: 23% of older adults have a health condition that bars them from reading. Some apps help with reading, listening, and navigation but most of the time, the people in question aren’t auto-sufficient to install such programs. Before looking at social media’s main benefits, let’s summarize some ways to learn how to use a computer and go beyond health barriers.
Where can I learn to use the computer/internet?
Learning how to use a PC from specialized private companies might prove the fastest way to learn, but it’s also the most expensive. Consider other alternatives such as:
- Local schools and community colleges
- Government-sponsored PC courses
- Freelance home tutors
What software helps navigation for people with health issues?
- Apps for the visually impaired
- Programs for the hearing impaired
- Applications for disabled individuals
Studies show that 77% of seniors need assistance when learning new technologies. It’s essential to have a tutor when learning how to use a computer, the internet, or any new technology. Otherwise, the frustration from not understanding might shut down the individual and eliminate future learning possibilities. Asking for help from a relative or social worker might be the best first step to get online.
Now that we got some specifics out of the way, let’s get into the seven benefits of social media for older adults and seniors:
Long-distance family and relatives
Social media websites like Facebook and Instagram are perfect places to find distanced family members. After creating an account and putting up some photos of yourself and a few biography lines, you’ll first get in touch with your closest family and friends. The website’s algorithm will identify people you might know and suggest that you add them to your friend list. Similarly, once you register, your friends and family will see you online and do the same thing.
Social media’s specialty is connecting people who might know each other through geo-localization, big data, and different complex algorithms assisted by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Similar search automation means that you won’t do the heavy lifting when browsing for contacts. The only thing that depends on you is accepting or rejecting friend requests.
New acquaintances and old friends
Social media is an excellent way not just to get in touch with old friends, but to make new ones, as well. There are a number of ways you can connect with a new person and develop a relationship. For instance, you’re able to comment on news videos, movie trailers, and other types of media. Your comment becomes public, and other people can see it or even reply to it. One thing leads to another, and you get a friend request from the person you’re talking to in the comment section. You can now talk privately with the person and develop a valuable friendship online that can materialize in real-life.
Through networking, you can connect with old friends from your childhood. By adding friends of friends, you may stumble upon a dear lost pal that the algorithm missed. There are even private groups that specialize in getting together lost friendships.
Social engagement in the community
Ever wanted to change something in your neighborhood? Or do charity acts in your community? Well, with social media, galvanizing people is much easier and more effective. You can set up or participate in local, national, or global social campaigns.
Social media suggests gatherings you might be interested in, just like it recommends people you might know. A typical event indicates the time and place of the meeting, alongside a brief explanation. For example, protesting a new law, showing support for veterans, helping underprivileged families, and similar activities are commonplace on social media.
After forming a friend network and gaining a little experience, you too can organize an event with just a couple of clicks. As long as you respect the rules and regulations, you can create the most imaginative event that comes to mind. Maybe you’d like to organize a park outing club or a late-night online conference group; the possibilities are endless.
Education and instruction
The internet is infinite, and so are the educational resources on social media. There are videos about cooking the perfect turkey to industry-specific training material. In any case, educational videos are excellent tools for everybody, regardless of age. It stimulates the mind and provides easy-to-learn knowledge through narration, schematization, and simulation.
Virtually any social media website has a search bar, usually identifiable by the magnifying glass symbol. There, you can type your interests and get numerous videos, MP3 recordings, e-books, and other valuable resources.
Great place for entertainment
Social media is full of entertainment in many forms. Music, short movies, hilarious comment sections, witty photos, and memesare just a couple of examples of social media fun.
More so, platforms like Facebook have tons of games you could play directly on your internet browser. You could even play cooperative games with several other friends. It may seem like kid’s play for some. Still, computer games are healthy occupations for older adults as they improve cognitive functions in the brain. Video games relax the user and promote pleasure hormone secretion.
Other ways of entertainment include subscribing to social media groups. There are two types:
- Public groups where everyone can see the posts and participate in the discussion.
- Private groups where you first need to get accepted before participating or seeing published posts.
These inner communities cater to their specific interests such as military, sports, hobbies, world affairs, and everything in-between.
More business opportunities
Social media connects not only people but businesses and institutions worldwide. It’s a useful platform for professional networking of any kind. You can find everything from individual freelancers to multi-continental corporations. On top of your personal profile, you can create a business profile to further your horizons in the vast sea of capitalism.
Furthermore, most sites have a marketplace section where people sell, buy, and trade different items. Maybe you’d like to organize a garage sale or buy something at a discount. Both new and used objects are imported and exported globally through social media by the thousands each year.
The marketplace also has a job trading section where employers and workers can interact. Here you can find computer home tutors, people that will mow your lawn, etc.
Feeling connected to the world
Finally, the last point of our list refers to a particular feeling when surfing on social media. More specifically, the idea that you’re connected to everybody and everything. Although you can’t be friends with all the people in the world, you could theoretically reach anyone through social media. The network is enormous and intertwined, so even if you’re not directly connected to a stranger in Shanghai, you’re indirectly connected to him through a “friends of friends” web.
It may not seem as much for some, but it helps remind lonely people that they’re not completely isolated. Social media gives the possibility to solitary people to connect and ease the suffering of being alone. That’s why there are so many dedicated support groups online.
Social media used correctly has nothing but benefits for older adults. It reconnects family, old buddies, and forges new friendships. Social media is a great way to participate in your community, form interest groups, and seek new business opportunities. There are many resources for educational and entertainment purposes, all while keeping connected to the whole wide world.
By Nick van Migrot
Nick van Migrot is an award-winning content and essay writer from Los Angeles, California. He’s a best bet when it comes to topics such as business management, digital marketing, and finance. He also writes for Bestessay.com. Nick is the father of a lovely toddler and a semi-professional long-distance runner. Hit him up on Twitter.