The Elderly and the Internet

The Elderly and the Internet

Social media has long been a domain of Generation Z and Millennials, but a surprising group of people have become internet savvy in recent years. Seniors, those 65-years old and up, have become serious social media users, and it is doing a world of good for them. With the rise of Facebook came the inevitable friend request from your grandma or grandpa.

Though it may seem like the last place you would think they would want to be, social media and Skype have actually become one of the most important aspects of senior socialization. Social media sites like Facebook are a haven for the elderly, and the numbers of seniors joining the craze are only growing. Pew Research Center statistics show that those 65 and up who are avid internet users has rose 150% from 2009 to 2011 alone, and of that group, 34% were using social media regularly. With the increase of cell phone use amongst seniors more recently, social media and video chatting has become second nature, and not surprisingly, as they teach one another how to use this technology, those numbers are again on the rise.

The elderly are drawn to social media for one of the most common reason of all—it provides them an outlet to connect. You may not want to friend your grandma, but she is reaching out to you where statistically you spend the bulk of your time. Meeting you on your own turf, so to speak. Don’t worry, because she is also likely connecting with distant, long-unseen family and friends who also found their way to social media for the same reason. Your grandma just wants to let you know that she wants to keep in touch, and she’s glad that she can reach you no matter where you are, bridging the distance between you both.

The internet has also become a bastion of information for the elderly, who like to use the internet to conduct research about medical issues, look up necessary government information, read news items on Twitter, learn about their finances, and other issues that are of interest to their demographic. The internet has become a doorway for seniors to connect with people who share their interests too. Before the internet, seniors and elderly adults were relegated to the company of whoever happened to be around them, and often times those people are nurses, aides, or neighbors. The internet has opened the proverbial floodgates for seniors to interact with the people they choose to be around.

The rise of internet popularity has spurred on a growth in senior computer classes and training programs to bring seniors into the social media loop. These type of classes and engagement are especially good for seniors who are homebound or have limited mobility, which can be just as devastating to their health as illness can. Internet and social media use has actually been shown to improve the overall health of seniors.

The internet provides much needed stimulation, connectivity, and delivers better cognitive performance. Seniors on the internet are excited to learn and share their wealth of knowledge and wisdom with everyone. Having an internet connection gives seniors the freedom to choose their friends, find their passions, and explore the world at large, and it is changing the world for the better.