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Social Media: Communicating with the 50+ age group

By: Theresa Pugh

Published On: October 19, 2014

Portrait of mature man and his wife working with laptop at home

Don’t overlook the power–and importance-of social media when communicating with the over 50 age group.

According to intel from Pew Research (2010), nearly half (47%) of internet users ages 50-64 and one in four (26%) users age 65 and older now use social networking sites.

If these figures seem contrary to preconceived expectations of older adults, think again.

Email and online news are still more appealing to older users, but social media sites attract many repeat visitors.

Email has increasingly become the primary way that older users stay in touch with families and friends. At a time when teens have turned to texting or social networking sites at the expense of the more traditional email, studies indicate that overall, 92% of those ages 50-64 and 89% of those ages 65 and older send or read email and more than half of each group exchanges email messages on a typical day. Online news gathering also ranks highly in the daily media habits of older adults; 76% of internet users ages 50-64 get news online, and 42% do so on a typical day. Among internet users ages 65 and older, 62% look for news online and 34% do so on a typical day. (Pew Research, 2010)

What is the benefit of social media sites for older adults?

Enhanced creativity and sharing. Older adults may choose to develop “creative content” and blog using specialized sites such as WordPress or share photos with friends through Instagram.

Reconnection. They are likely to reconnect with people from their past, which provides a supportive network.
Older adults, especially those living with a chronic disease, are able to reach out for support online. In many cases, online information offers something of a safe haven that may not be readily available to the adult living with a chronic condition. It also reassures the person they are not alone as there are often online support groups available.

Social media bridges generational gaps where friends and families, grandparents and grandchildren communicate across the same social media platform. They are, if you like, literally speaking the same language, sharing the same space. (And how often does that happen?) We are literally witnessing an era where online communications such as photos, videos and blogs document the life span of the entire family. Documenting in the digital age creates a living history online.

Whoever said that social media is the exclusive domain of the teenager had better think again. But then, history shows the younger generation thinks they invented everything. When it comes to Facebook, the younger generation did invent that particular application, only now, everyone, including the over 50 group, is using it as part of their everyday life.



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