When many people think of social networking in the world today, they think of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There are more and more social networking sites and apps that keep popping up in the technological world today. But when most people think of these social networking aspects, many just think that only younger people use them. In our society, many people think that it is unexpected that older people use social media as a way to stay in touch with their cohorts. But these apps/websites can be very beneficial to older adults health and wellbeing. It is a way for them to keep up with their social networks in a more convenient way than it ever has been before.
Facebook has become an almost “necessity” in everyone’s daily social life. Facebook has made it easy for people to stay in touch with many friends and family that they may not see on a daily basis. It is a way for people to conveniently stay in touch with their social group and keep up with everyone they care about. Facebook utilizes messaging, photo sharing, and profiles to help people stay in touch with whomever they want. Facebook is also a great way to meet new people that maybe some people would have never thought about it. Facebook makes it easier for people to expand their social group and stay in touch with loved ones.
Instagram is another social networking “necessity”. Instagram is famous for picture sharing. It is a great way to know what is going on in other people’s lives by just the use of posting and sharing pictures. It is very user friendly and can also include features like messaging and commenting to stay in touch with friends and family.
According to Sinclair and Grieve (2017), the older adults are using social networking sites such as Facebook much more frequently today. Studies have shown that there are in fact similar benefits from online social networks, like Facebook, that protect from negative wellbeing outcomes (Sinclair & Grieve, 2017). Online social networks are a good alternative way for older adults to stay socially connected. The purpose of this study was to see if online social connectedness gave older adults the same feelings of connectedness as they would if their was no social networking (Sinclair & Grieve, 2017).
Sinclair and Grieve took 280 Facebook users between the ages of 55 and 81 years old. Most of them were females. The social connectedness was measured through various surveys that asked the participants questions about how they felt connected to the people they know on Facebook and so on. The results showed that many of the participants did feel a sense of connectedness when they had Facebook (Sinclair & Grieve, 2017).
There were of course some limitations in the study, which can be related to how Facebook and Instagram can be fixed to make it more functional for people like older adults (Sinclair & Grieve, 2017). Many older adults may have less access to computers or have absolutely no interest in the use of computers (Sinclair & Grieve, 2017). But in today’s world we are seeing technological obstacles within older adults decreasing because they need to use technology more in their daily lives in order to live (Sinclair & Grieve, 2017).
Another study showed how older adults with functional disabilities had a lower stressors when they used social networking sites like Facebook (Ingen, Rains, & Wright, 2017). Research shows that functional disability can decrease the well being of an older adult (Ingen, Rains, & Wright, 2017). But according to the study social networking sited can decrease the negative stressor that functional disability has on one’s life (Ingen, Rains, & Wright, 2017).
The study was measured through various online surveys. There were approximately 2032 participants all over the age of 55 years. The surveys measured both well-being and social loneliness (Ingen, Rains, & Wright, 2017). The results showed that Internet use and social networking use did in fact have an effect on social loneliness and well-being (Ingen, Rains, & Wright, 2017).
Obstacles to Older Adults
Many older adults may face obstacles on a daily basis that make it harder for them to be able to use daily things like the computer or a cell phone. As people get older, his or her health tends to decrease; this does not mean that everyone who is old is sick. What it means is that, as humans get older our bodily functions tend to decrease. For example, older adults’ hearing and vision may not be as good as a young adult. Using cell phones and computers may be especially hard for older adults because of difficulties like decreasing vision. This may hinder the use of social networking sites for older adults.
Older adults may not be very familiar with technology because that isn’t something they grew up with. But as the generations get older, older adults are starting to become more familiar with technology because it is necessary to use in daily life and in the work place. This knowledge of technology is beneficial for older adults because they are able to use things like Facebook and the Internet.
Many of the social networking sites are geared towards a younger audience. Since older generations are becoming more familiar with technology and are becoming more comfortable with using Facebook and Instagram, it is important that these sites/apps become more user friendly for older adults too because socializing can be a lot easier for older adults who may not have the privilege of being able to daily tasks on their own and Facebook and Instagram can help them stay in contact with anyone at any time.
Socializing is very important for older adults. It is just as important to be social in late adulthood than it is to be social in adolescence. Depression and other health effects can deter older adults from socializing. Other things like functional disabilities may hinder a person from being able to go out and do simple tasks like visiting a friend or family member, so social networking sites like Facebook or Instagram are a convenient way to stay in touch with those that someone may care for most.
Ingen, E., Rains, S. A., & Wright, K. B. (2017). Does social network site buffer against well-being loss when older adults face reduced functional ability? Computers in Human Behavior. (70). 168-177.
Sinclair, T. J., & Grieve, R. (2017). Facebook as a source of social connectedness in older adults. Cimputers in Human Behavior. (66). 363-369.