Is Social Media Good or Bad for Seniors?
Overall, social media seems to have a positive effect on seniors’ well-being. Internet use has been shown to reduce seniors’ risk of depression by nearly 33%. One study found that seniors who use Facebook show marked improvements in cognitive function.
Another study found similar results when seniors were trained to use email, Skype, Zoom and Facebook.
Social media can open new avenues for seniors separated from children and grandchildren by long distances or physical distancing.
Facebook makes it easy to keep in touch with family members. Over the past year, video-calling has become very popular with seniors, who use services like Skype and Zoom to connect with their grandchildren.
Social Media Helps Keep the Family Together
Facebook is particularly useful for connecting with loved ones. It makes more frequent conversations possible and can really help close generation gaps.
Shared photos allow seniors to see their grandchildren change and grow, and creates closeness and involvement.
2. VIDEO CHATS
Video chats also are a great way to communicate in “real-time” and Facebook messenger can accommodate not only live chat but video too.
Social media can really connect family members separated by distance or because of COVID-19 and social distancing recommendations.
The Health Benefits of Social Media
Believe it or not, social media can open up a door for seniors to enjoy some key health benefits.
1. It can reduce loneliness, isolation and depression symptoms. Seniors who actively participate in social media regularly report better moods. Keeping in touch with family and friends and being active in their lives goes a long way to combat depression.
2. A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that seniors who use social media are more likely to participate in activities that lead to better health overall.
3. With so much information at their fingertips, many seniors can take the opportunity to do research and get better educated on matters concerning their health. This makes them more likely to engage in healthy eating, staying physically active, and finding ways to make daily activities easier and more efficient.
4. There are many types of groups on Facebook seniors can join. They can find others with the same interests (knitting, cooking, etc.) or others who have the same health concerns (Stroke, diabetes, etc.). These groups offer ideas and support and are a great way to feel a part of a community.
5. Seniors who regularly use social media can perform well intellectually. Since social media helps to satisfy social needs, it becomes a mental stimulant, Keeping one’s mental health generally in check.
Opportunity to Keep Learning
The social media landscape is an ever-changing one with something new to learn every day. This can be fun for curious seniors who want to stay up to date on the trends their families are following.
Joining groups of people who are active in an area of interest can keep seniors learning and sharing their knowledge of topics they’re interested in.
Some Precessions Should be Taken
As we can see there are some really important benefits for seniors using social media, but as we know there are some downsides to social media we all need to look out for.
Did you know fraud is one of the most committed crimes in the world? Fraud is widespread even among social media users. Seniors are often the target for fraudsters and hackers and seniors need to be aware to be on the lookout. The scam artists use a variety of programs, techniques, and devices to propagate fraud on older adults. See our blog on Fraud Prevention https://www.canes.on.ca/blog/fraud-prevention
Over the years issues around privacy has been talked about and criticized. Though social media platforms such as Facebook has made some changes to how they handle privacy they could be doing more to protect their users. They offer many privacy settings to protect the users however it takes some digging to find and change these and it may be something seniors don’t even consider or know they have control over. If you have an elderly loved one who enjoys using social media perhaps you can help them adjust their privacy settings to ensure their privacy is protected.
3. Harassment and Bullying
This is another unfortunate impact of social media on seniors. Crimes such as these befall unknowing senior citizens and are usually carried out by ruthless youngsters posting mean comments about the seniors. The youngsters or trolls attempt to show the seniors that they are beyond the social media age and that they do not belong there. These forms of bullying disturb the old ones and affect them psychologically.
Let your loved ones know that they can report these comments and reassure them that of course, they belong on social media it’s for everyone!
4. Misinformation (aka Fake News)
Unfortunately, this one is an ongoing problem and some of the things shared can be scary or cruel or just downright wrong. Seniors should be reminded that just because someone they know and love shared something on social media doesn’t mean it’s true.
It’s always important to check the facts and question anything that seem like it’s a little fishy or farfetched.
It’s important to share your knowledge of social media to make sure your senior loved ones know which scams and traps to watch out for and make sure to check in regularly to ensure they aren’t unknowingly connecting with people they shouldn’t be.
Social media can be a great tool for seniors and opens up a whole new way to connect with friends, family and the larger community. By encouraging our loved ones to get online, we can expand their worlds and ensure we stay connected. Be sure to follow our social channels for important tips and news from CANES Community Care.