Social media helps senior citizens stay connected

Gadsden County resident Donnie Green. Photo courtesy: Green

Social media represents a powerful revolution that has changed the globe. Social networks have brought changes that have impacted society and improved people’s lives.

Contrary to some stereotypes, the elderly have significantly benefited from social media. However, there are dangers associated with social networks which can escalate in the absence of safety measures.

Anne Barrett, director of the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy at Florida State University, said, “For the most part, older adult’s issues with social media are much the same as those of younger people. On the positive side, it can provide social interaction, and social media can be an important source of these things for anyone who is physically limited in some way, regardless of their age.”

“On the negative side, we know that social media can lead to interactional silos in which people are only interacting with people whom they share certain beliefs, which can be very limiting and even dangerous, especially with regard to the spread of misinformation,” she added.

As individuals age, their mobility begins to decline, and they experience a slower response to most activities. Their physical capacity diminishes, and their participation in social events decreases. One of the fundamental benefits of social media to older people is that it allows them to get rid of the emotional challenges of isolation by increasing social networking.

Donnie Greene, an elderly Gadsden County resident, believes social media affects different age groups differently.

“Actually, different age groups are going to be affected in different ways,” she said. “I fall into the senior citizen group; we don’t get out as much so some of the news we get is absolute garbage. Google search and Facebook are my only true friends, or maybe just a big fraud that enlightens me to their way of thinking, buying and voting.”

Social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter have helped senior citizens with limited mobility to interact with their friends and families from various locations.

Social networks help to maintain social connections for older adults as the world continues to undergo a digital transformation. The elderly can interact with the community and attain better mental health, mainly through social exchanges.

Kathleen Cox, a Leon County resident, says that seniors use social media to stay connected with others.

“Seniors can use social media to stay connected to chat, make videos and audio calls, share photos,” Cox said. “Keep in touch with people you haven’t been in touch with for years.”

“Social media use among the elderly should be encouraged with guidance on how they should use the information posted on various social websites,” Barrett said.