Social media use has exceedingly grown across all ages all over the globe, with social networking sites such as Facebook, Google Hangouts, Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitter taking center stage in staying connected with family and friends. Contrary to popular belief that older people cannot manage technology due to their age and cognitive deficits, older users have been flocking to social media over the years at a rapid pace. Seniors have largely embraced social media and networking tools with enthusiasm despite their physical impairments to maintain communication, manage their daily lives, and stay updated with their health, news, pictures, videos, and status updates.
How Social Impacts Senior Citizens
According to statistics, seniors have become active in adapting to the latest technology, just like their younger counterparts. Social media usage for older citizens is on the rise, and here are some ways it is positively impacting their lives.
The Social Networks
Social media helps maintain social networks for older people. A social network is particularly important for the health of older people because it enhances their well-being and satisfaction. Seniors find it difficult to maintain a social network because of retirement, health problems, and mobility issues. These challenges weaken their existing social network and make establishing new ones challenging. Unfortunately, this leads to negative emotions like anxiety or depression.
Older adults can now easily reestablish their lost original social networks and establish new ones through online interaction on different social media networks. This significantly curbs the negative psychological effects of a weakened social network for seniors. With social media, older adults can make new relationships with like-minded people, expand their social contact and start new social networks in the comfort of their homes.
With social media, older adults can engage in meaningful social contact. For example, they can connect with seniors with the same chronic diseases, join social networks or online discussion forums, learn new things, practice new hobbies, and stay informed and entertained by playing a game or watching a video.
In addition, social media is handy for seniors since they are more prone to social exclusion. According to studies, seniors are motivated to use social media to reduce loneliness and social isolation and to be involved in their family life. However, social media should not be used as a replacement for person-to-person contact. It is still important for seniors to spend time with family and friends in-person to avoid the psychological and physical effects of staying alone.
Convenient Shopping Experience
Shopping is a fun activity for everyone, regardless of their age. Unfortunately, for seniors, shopping can become a challenging experience due to various factors like age, medical conditions, and mobility issues that prevent them from roaming around easily. However, these online shopping has mitigated these challenges, making things easier, faster more convenient. Older adults can order everything online and get it delivered to their doorstep without the hassle of driving or going anywhere. They can also get amazing deals online and discount coupons and save some cash.
Additionally, seniors can use social media to their advantage when they have queries about services and products with the simple touch of a button. Social media tools provide a convenient and fast way to reach out or get answers from companies or healthcare services by reaching out to representatives on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Technology has created the ability to facilitate independence at home or wherever a person is.
As the population ages, the number of seniors is projected to grow by over 60% in the next 15 years. There will be approximately one billion older people globally by 2030, equivalent to 12% of the entire population.
Social media has played a significant role in health management for senior adults. With the ever-rising population of older adults, it is vital to promote healthy behaviors to prevent or minimize disease, disability, and dependency. This can significantly help neutralize the overwhelming demand for healthcare services. Social media helps promote public health programs and has increased levels of health management for seniors, which helps postpone disability and dependency.
Seniors have low self-health management levels. They are affected by memory loss and other factors like poor health literacy and knowledge compared to the younger generation making their self-management levels low. Increasing health knowledge can significantly help improve the health of seniors. This is where social media comes in. It has made it easier and more convenient to gain information and knowledge on health to improve the health literacy of older adults. Elderly internet users are majorly concerned with their health, according to research. This makes social media reliable for obtaining and sharing information between groups or in private chats.
Peace of Mind for Family
Living far away from your elderly loved ones can bring about a lot of stress and anxiety for both parties, especially if a senior is living independently. The constant concern and worry about their well-being can put a toll on you psychologically since you are not close enough to check on them. Fortunately, social media provides a platform to easily communicate and check in on family and friends as frequently as needed. Family can easily check on seniors living alone by video calling or chatting to ensure that is in good health, eating well, or taking their medications. Social media also allows families and caregivers to ask questions about what is going on in their life daily.
Barriers and Precautions of Social Media for Seniors
There are several challenges and barriers that seniors face while using social media. It is, therefore, crucial for caregivers or family members to closely monitor the online activities of seniors. This helps ensure your loved one is not falling prey to phishing, scams, and untrustworthy people, especially when conversing in chat rooms or blogs. Keep an eye on their spending habits, so they don’t overspend their savings and hard-earned money on unnecessary items.
It is also essential to ensure that older adults stay away from malicious and misleading internet content for their safety. The best thing would be to educate or guide them on the do’s and don’ts while using the Internet to protect them from scams, phishing, or other harmful content. Educate them on handling threats and updating their software, especially with antivirus programs on their devices. Explain to them why they should never give out personal information like passwords and credit card numbers, addresses, or phone numbers to strangers or anyone they do not trust online.
Another concern for older adults with social media use is privacy concerns and technical difficulties, such as a lack of computer skills, inappropriate content on social media, or heavy web designs. These barriers can make it challenging for older people to use social media effectively or make them shy away from using it altogether. According to studies, some seniors find it difficult to understand and grasp the concept and purpose of social networking sites, making them unwilling to participate in online activities. Other studies conducted among social media users of different ages raised concerns that social media can lead to depression and aggravate its symptoms. Staying informed and practicing safe social media usage can enable seniors to enjoy the benefits of social media, lead a better life, keep in touch with family and friends, age positively and have fun while at it.
The team at Tacoma Laser Clinic is glad to help you improve your quality of life as you age with grace. Contact us today for more information on our services and how we can help you, or schedule an appointment online.