Senior citizens and social media

Stop me if you've heard this one before. A woman in her 40s thinks it's time that her mother got on social media, in order to connect with family members. She sets the older woman up with Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter accounts. Connections are made with dozens of friends and relatives. Soon, the posts are flying across the Internet, and her mother picks up new followers. She spends a lot of time posting pictures to Facebook, recipes to Pinterest, and inspirational phrases on Twitter.

Soon, though, the woman notices that her mother ends every post on Twitter and Facebook with LOL. 'Found a five dollar bill on the street, LOL'. 'Don't forget to wear a sweater to the office, LOL'. 'Think I'm coming down with a cold, LOL'. She thought it was odd, but at least her mother was trying to use social media jargon. Then, one day, her mother posted, 'Aunt Grace has passed away, LOL'.

She called her mother.

'Mom?' she asked. 'I noticed that you write LOL after every post on social media.'

'That's right, dear.' Her mother replied. 'All the kids do it. Haven't you noticed?'

'Yes, but'_What do you think LOL means?'

Her mother paused. 'Lots of love?'

Seniors and social media use

We laugh, of course, but this is a simple and honest mistake. What's important is that a senior citizen has made the effort to connect and engage with people in social media. Pew Research reports that 65% of all adults over the age of 50, and 46% over 65, use social media sites. Instagram, to name but one site, has exploded with senior citizens posting pictures of their grandchildren and bus tours.

If you think seniors don't want to learn how to use social media, think again. One of the busiest individuals in a retirement community, church, or senior center is the Social Networking Coach. These people are regularly in demand, aiding seniors in setting up accounts, sharing videos, and advising on practical tips to get the most out of their feeds and postings.

Studies show that seniors want social media accounts for

  • Connecting with family and friends

One of the clichí©s you always hear is, 'My children never visit.' With family members scattered across the world, seniors often feel disenfranchised. Children and grandchildren also wish to connect with them more often. Nothing can accomplish that goal more successfully than social media.

Seniors are also excited to hear from old friends. Pages devoted to their home towns, schools, and societies they belonged to get regular and devoted use from nostalgic older adults.

  • Hobbies

Face it, if you've got an interest, there's probably a Facebook or Pinterest page for it. Seniors can spend hours chatting and sharing with like-minded souls in communities across the Web. New friendships develop, and the mind is engaged during even the rainiest of afternoons.

  • Coupons

Most seniors live on fixed incomes. If they can get a deal, and save some money, they will take advantage of it. If you have a business, particularly in retail, consider offering digital coupons through outlets like Twitter and Facebook. Draw attention to these deals on places like CoolSavings, and Coupons.com. If you discount it, they will come.

If you have an older family member or friend who isn't using social media, please urge them to try it. If they seem reluctant, it's probably because they are afraid of making a mistake; so offer to help them, or find them a coach who can guide them. The rewards are immeasurable, for them and you.

Expect LOLs.

Photo credit: adwriter / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Gary Locke
By Gary Locke

A semi-professional hyphenate and the Content Editor for CommonPlaces. He has enjoyed a long career in theater and multimedia, and still hopes to one day drive the Batmobile.

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