Social Media for Elders

n this day and age being able to virtually connect with family and friends has come as a blessing in disguise. People who have been born before the 1960’s have seen the world evolve in the last 60 years from painfully slow postal services, moving to fixed landline telephony to today’s wireless instant communication. However social media is not without its pain-points. The most common social media services that are available today are: –

  • Mobile phones
  • Facebook 
  • WhatsApp  
  • Twitter 
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn 
  • Snap chat 
  • Zoom, Skype and many other such services.

All of these have their advantages and are targeted for very specific userbase. In the context of senior citizens mobile telephony, WhatsApp, Facebook are the most commonly used services. Linked-in is more for professional purposes, snapchat, and Instagram are primarily used by the younger generation and Twitter is more for reading opinions and engaging in discussions rather than your social media consumption.

The advantages of social media are:

  • Instant communication with family and friends. 
  • Being able to receive and share interesting images, content with all your friends.
  • Being able to connect with your colleagues, class mates, family members who you are not in touch with since a long time
  • Most services are free and easy to use.

Unfortunately, there are also significant challenges with using social media for elderly

  • Misinformation: Especially during covid a lot of anonymous and incorrect information has been shared and, in a few cases, has proved to be dangerous and unsafe.
  • Scamming: Due to the relative anonymity of social media, it is very easy for people with wrong intentions to connect with senior citizen easily and, financially or otherwise cheat them.
  • Negative mental health: Social media has been proven to trigger anxiety and depression due to people comparing themselves to others and being victims of social media shaming.
  • Addiction:  One of the more dangerously evolving trends of social media usage among the elderly is the possibility of addiction, because their dependence on social media increases drastically to help reduce their boredom. 

Our patients have reported the following positive side effects of being able to use social media. They say it helps improve their mental health as they are engaged in constructive activities and are able to educate themselves and improve their knowledge. Our patients also say that they are able to keep up to date with their family and friends and virtually participate and enjoy all the celebrations and good movements in the lives of their friends and family 

By being part of communities and groups, they find people with likeminded interests and enjoy having discussions and debates with them.

We at RESTORY recommend that our seniors be thought how to use social media effectively and safely and it is the responsibility of the children and the grand children to teach them basics about does and don’ts to protect them from scams and addiction. A healthy social media usage of 1-2 hours a day will greatly help in alleviating their boredom and give them an excellent way to socialise without impacting their lifestyle or their health.

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