Sunday, June 16, 2013

Putha, What kind of book is this “Facebook”?

Elders using Social Media to connect with the Youth

This chat might sound familiar if you've ever tried to explain the wonders of social media to your grandparents and elderly relatives. Social media and seniors never seem to merge very well, unlike their fresher counterparts whose wits seem to be bathed with Web browsers with multiple tabs open at all times. However, this long held belief that old people are technically out of touch is no longer becoming the case.
While social media may be unquestionably linked with young people, are elders starting to catch on to its latent benefits?

Seniors are becoming the fastest growing demographic to use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype, according to Forbes. With over 39 million people aged 65 or older using these social media platforms, this age group has the most potential for growth in social media usage. According to an All Assisted Living Homes report in 2010, seniors actually make up 14.8 million users (11 percent) of Facebook, which represents a yearly growth of a whopping 1448 percent.

To further confirm this, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reports that the 74-plus demographic is the growing faster than any other age group on social media. Add in the fact that baby boomers are starting to enter their golden years, and there’s nothing but tremendous upswing for social media and digital marketing. Millennials may use social media to create a foundation for their identity, interests and relationships in life, but seniors can use social media to reflect on their achievements and experiences, as well as reestablish relationships cultivated throughout their life. Young or old, people can use social media to build, maintain and assess their life at any point.

Social media outlets, like Facebook, can paint a portrait of one’s life at the click of a button. It can help aging adults organize and prioritize key interests and relationships based on their values and lifestyle. Over 40 percent of seniors use Facebook to reconnect with family and long lost friends, according to the All Assisted Living Homes report. Time is invaluable, and a platform such as Facebook can help elderly people spend their time with the people who matter most. Facebook organizes relationships, interests, pictures and events in order for aging adults to understand and appreciate how social networks have enriched their life.

You may be wondering who is the Oldest Person on Facebook? At age 105, Edythe Kirchmaier is Facebook's oldest registered user. Kirchmaier, who is also California's oldest licensed driver and the University of Chicago's oldest living former student, joined Facebook last month. Born into the age of telegraphs and rotary dial telephones, Kirchmaier said she embraces social media because it allows her to check in daily with friends and family. Kirchmaier herself already has more than 20,000 Facebook friends. While Kirchmaier is the oldest person on Facebook, she is hardly the only senior to embrace social media. The social site's demographics have grown steadily grayer over the past few years. Golden-agers are also signing onto Twitter in record numbers. In 2009, only 5 percent of Internet users in the 50 to 64 age bracket had used Twitter, or some other status-update service. It's now up to 11 percent. When speaking to many other seniors they said they use social media mainly to keep in touch with friends, children and grandchildren. And they enjoy just checking Facebook every day and seeing the pictures that have been added and reading some of the messages. It keeps me from getting lonely.

The potential that seniors hold in dominating online usage means more content will be catered to their needs and interests. Online marketing companies, which once focused on younger demographics, could begin targeting older age groups in advertisements. Seniors have sheer strength in numbers and their increasing competence of social media could make them a lucrative focus for marketers. However, the negative consequences of social media use for older adults have yet to be investigated such as access to harmful information and misuse of personal data being stolen by online pirates. 


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