Seniors Embrace Social Media in Surprising Numbers

One of the writers I featured in my new book, The Vintage years: Finding Your Inner Artist (Writer, Musician, Visual Artist) After Sixty, didn't begin to write her first book until she was in her eighties. And realizing at that time that her preferred method of pen and paper was no longer efficient, she embarked on learning how to use a computer. At ninety-two she's quite proficient at the keyboard and no stranger to email.

Seniors are a pragmatic lot, adopting whatever new technologies make their lives easier. While it doesn't surprise me, I think that the technology mavens may have underestimated the extent to which boomers would gravitate to social media for entertainment and to fill all kinds of needs: to learn, to communicate, to research, to buy and to meet others.

In fact, according to Mashable writer Zoe Fox, "This year, 43% of Americans over 65 use at least one social networking site, compared with 26% in 2010 and 1% in 2008." While seniors' use of social media continues to lag behind younger cohort groups, as might be expected, "seniors have adopted social media at the highest rate over the past two years ... they are the only group yet to reach 50% adoption."

You are probably among the age 50+ adopters of social media so I am indeed preaching to the choir. The benefits of social media, and online pursuits in general, are numerous and highly reinforcing.  Keeping in touch in real time has never been easier with messages capable of being sent from smartphones whenever and wherever anything happens. Seeing your grand-kids' pictures instantly after they've been taken, has you craving for more.

Like Pavlov's dogs we salivate when we hear an electronic ping signaling an email, text message, or someone wanting to connect via Pinterest, Twitter or LinkedIn. When you factor in Skype, Face Time and other video communication apps, where you can see and speak to family with no travel involved, there is a wealth of options for channels of social contact. Who knows what's next, but boomers will be there eagerly waiting for every new innovation in technology.

Age is no barrier to adopting new devices that better life. The capacity to learn any new technological advance that comes along fits a senior's ability quite well. After all, who has more time to learn? Once the basics are understood, the taste of success makes the next challenge even more inviting and exciting. In fact, Wishpond an online social media marketing company, recently reported that "The 74+ demographic is the fastest growing among social networks."

Research in 2001 suggested that seniors were skeptical of technology and would be slow adopters given their beliefs that the effort to learn might not be worth the end results. But that was more than a decade ago. Perhaps ageist prejudices tinged researchers' hypotheses back then or maybe we've come to see the direct benefits to our lives of evolving  technologies--making the world a smaller and more intimate place. Seniors have changed as has the technology, making it ever more difficult to categorize technology users by age.

Key words: 
social networking

Comments

At 65 years of age, life used to be 'almost over, but not completely over', but today the years ahead and the opportunities to enjoy life are abundant for those of us '55 and better'. Dr. Toder's work resonates with and inspires this cohort, and her writing brings a clear and welcome message to all of us who are ready for the next opportunity.

Add comment

Written by: Francine Toder. Posted: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 12:21. 

Featured Research

 

Medical Alert Systems: Help

Medical Alert Systems GuideWe kept getting asked "which medical alert system is best?"; and "how do I choose the right medical alert system for me?". This independent, objective, hands-on research tries to answer those questions. If you are looking for a medical alert system, either for yourself or for an older adult such as a parent, this piece of research is for you.

Choose the Right Medical Alert System for YOU

 

Useful Apps Club

Useful Apps ClubUnlock the potential of your smartphone or tablet to improve your life. The Useful Apps Club is for older adults and Boomers who have a smartphone or tablet (or are thinking of getting one) and need help to turn it into a useful tool. We are focused on finding Apps that can change your life, and teaching you how to use them. 

View: The Useful Apps Club

 

Reduce Fall Risk

Avoid FallsRead the "best of the web" on: Avoiding Falling. Our team of clinicians and citizen analysts has scoured the web for the best available answers to a set of questions designed to help you make falling less likely, and make the consequences if you do fall less bad.

View: Avoid the Perils of Falling

 

Guide: Home Sensor Systems

Home Sensor SystemsRead our report on this new category of products, designed to help seniors stay at home longer, and to help their families worry about them less. There are important lessons to be learned about which ones work, and for which types of circumstance they are optimal.

View: Home Sensor System Guide

 

Explore our Content

Signup for newsletter

Get more content like this by (monthly) email.