‘Facebook/Instagram’; is it face to face enough?

INTRODUCTION

Instagram and Facebook are made to create easy connections with people who are unable to be together in person. Facebook was created in 2004 by a 19-year-old college student name Mark Zuckerberg. By becoming ‘friends’ with people, you are able to see what they post in terms of statuses, photos, videos, opinions, and anything of interest. The ‘mission statement’ for Facebook is “Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them” (Facebook Newsroom, 2016). Instagram is another social media app that allows people to post a single or multiple pictures/videos with descriptions of each posting. By ‘following’ people via Instagram, you will see and be a part of the pictures they post. On the Instagram website, a description of the app is told by saying “…simplicity and inspiring creativity through solving problems with thoughtful product design. As a result, Instagram has become the home for visual storytelling for everyone from celebrities, newsrooms and brands, to teens, musicians and anyone with a creative passion” (Instagram, 2017). They main goal of connecting people has been very successful with a rate of Facebook active users at 1.86 billion since December 31, 2016 on Facebook (Facebook Newsroom, 2016), and Instagram with more than 600 million users (Instagram, 2017). It is useful for young people because it invites us into creativity and self-proclamation with providing the foundation to be who we want to be. People get to post their artwork, sports achievements, music, writings, and anything else that makes us feel alive, and it is easy to share with our friends and family. This cultural difference plays an important role for older adults use of social networking sites because it is a cultural shift that is different than the privacy and ability to ‘share’ that they have grown up with.

SUMMARIES: The studies chosen were to look deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of technology use for seniors. Sinclair & Grieve, (2017) looked at the direct correlation between Facebook use and social connection for older adults. Sinclair & Grieve (2017) references Doyle & Goldingay (2012) in the idea that Facebook can be used as a useful tool in keeping in touch with family that lives far away, as well as providing the power and ability to reduce loneliness by staying connected in a way that would not be otherwise available.  This study was to look deeper into if Facebook could gain social connectedness for older adults (Sinclair & Grieve, 2017). By taking 280 Facebook users between the ages of 55 and 81, through an online survey that was received on Facebook, they asked questions by an online social connectedness scale and an offline social connectedness scale (Sinclair & Grieve, 2017). The results showed that Facebook can indeed help in social connectedness with older adults. Braun (2013) looked more into the key components that encourage or discourage older adults from using social networking sites. By 124 adults ranging from 60 to 90 years old, Braun (2013) found through surveys that measured their attitudes towards social networking sites in factors such as trust, frequency, pressure and ease of use had results of strong options in encouraging older adults to use social networking sites. By making the ease of use and trustworthiness of social networking sites stronger, it will improve and encourage older adults to step into what social networking sites can offer.

OLDER ADULTS WITH INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK

In direct terms with older adults and Instagram/Facebook, the question still stands; are these social networking sites setting older adults up well to obtain social connections with others? Looking at Instagram, a social media app that is created to post pictures/videos with short descriptions along with a goal to inspire creativity among its users (Instagram, 2017), there are aspects that are positive for use of older adults, as well as aspects that do not set older adults up well for use. Some positive aspects are the ability to receive short but in depth descriptions and photos of an event that someone participated in. It is quick and easy to scroll through to see multiple updates of people. It is easy to upload and post if desired, and allows people to comment back and forth on each other’s photos. Some negative attributes are its primary use on Smartphones, instead of on the computer. It is available to log on the account on the computer and scroll through, but it is not possible to upload photos from the computer. With that, only people that own smartphones are able to share their ‘world’ with others and cuts off the opportunity for a two-way communication as well as not giving that opportunity to older adults who do not own a smartphone or do not understand how to use it. According to Braun (2013), social networking sites must be aware of their ‘ease of use’ which can either discourage or encourage an older adult to participate in that particular social networking site. Connecting that to Instagram, by making Instagram more easily accessible to different forms of the internet, it will invite a wider majority of older adults to benefit from the social connectedness that Instagram has to offer.

When looking at Facebook, I notice its positive influence for older adults to stay socially connected to friends and family when the desired face-to-face interaction is not available. It is easily accessible on different devices and is a simple website to understand and learn to work with. It allows room for a two-way interaction between users as well as an easy process to keep track of the updates posted by people. In terms of loneliness, I see Facebook as an encouraging tool to use to feel a part of the lives of loved ones. This is important because making a social networking site has the power to play an important role in the emotional well-being of an older adult who has been feeling lonely. It is important for social networking sites to posture their audience towards older adults as well as the younger generations.

MY OWN EXPERIENCE: When thinking of my own grandparents, I picture them signing up for either Instagram and Facebook and feel much stronger about their success with Facebook rather than Instagram. First off, my grandparents never had smartphones, which already limits their options for ‘online social connectedness’ (Sinclair & Grieve, 2017). Another hard obstacle that comes to mind is the culture that seeps in the cracks of social media and social networking sites. A culture of strong opinions, fake news, and obsessive and excessive posting of personal lives. It would be challenging for my grandparents to understand the things that my cousins and I post or the jokes that are made. On the other hand, it would be really nice for them to be able to keep up with the big and small things that go on in my life without having to tell them everything when I would get the chance to see them in person. If they learned how to post pictures themselves, that too would have been very valuable to me in seeing updates on their lives as well.

CONCLUSION

             Through these research studies and my own experience with my grandparents, I would say if Instagram and Facebook were more accessible for older adults to work successfully, it would be a very positive addition to their lives and emotional well-being. By understanding the cultural aspect of social networking sites, I think through Facebook and Instagram, a powerful social connectedness can happen if the ease of use was more accessible.

 

References

Company Info. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2017, from https://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/

Braun, M. T. (2013). Obstacles to social networking website use among older adults. Computers   in Human Behavior,29(3), 673-680. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.004

About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2017, from https://www.instagram.com/about/us

Sinclair, T. J., & Grieve, R. (2017). Facebook as a source of social connectedness in older adults. Computers in Human Behavior,66, 363-369. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.10.003

 

 

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