Technology is a concept within society, which is constantly evolving and updating throughout the years. As individuals age it becomes more and more difficult to stay in tune with these frequent changes. Most senior citizens decide to simply withdraw from specific technological tools completely which leads senior citizens to become disconnected and isolated commonly leading to depression. Many technological advances for seniors have been placed available to the public such as alarms and safety buttons for risky situations such as falls but these technological devices are built to use for terms of safety. As far as applications used to increase social connectedness within the aging population there are several applications out there, which if used by seniors could be extremely beneficial to not only with staying socially connected with friends and family but also by improving mental health status in these individuals as well.
Facebook and Skype are two applications with a main focus of staying socially connected with individuals across the country and world. Both of these products are easily accessible via an app download on a smart phone or a download on a computer and accessible through the Internet. Skype is a product that allows individuals to have face-to-face video chatting with one another at any time of the day regardless where the individuals are. Facebook is very similar and allows individuals to add family and acquaintances as “friends” and be able to follow their lives via social media and see what they are doing in day-to-day activities no matter how far away they are from one another. The goal of both apps is very similar: interconnectedness. These products are extremely helpful when it comes to staying in touch with family members who are very far away or being able to Skype and see family members or grandchildren who lives out of state instead of having to buy a plane ticket every time they want to see one another. Both of these products are free for download and fairly straightforward and require simply an email in order to sign up.
Facebook is a common application used across the world by billions of people. Users can post status, pictures, videos, and etc. sharing there special moments in life with the rest of their friend groups. One article mentioned how recent studies have found that Facebook is positively correlates with improving social connectedness as well as mental health and individual well being (Indian & Grieve, 2014). With an increasing amount of senior citizens becoming members of this social media sight the outlook on improving this specific age groups health is very promising. Not only does this applications provide seniors a way to stay connected with family and friends; but it is also a social outlet to avoid depression, anxiety and loneliness. According to a class lecture on depression is was mentioned how it is very common for older adults to feel depressed and report feeling down or a loss of interest in activities and joy (Burzynska, 2017). Indian and Grieve’s article mentioned how studies have shown that Facebook is beneficial in decreasing loneliness in older adults who consider themselves to be more on the shy side by providing them with an alternative source of communication rather than face to face contact (Indian & Grieve, 2014). Loneliness and depression happens frequently within this population and can happen often after a loved one has passed, where individuals begin to slowly isolate themselves from the rest of the world. Facebook if used by seniors, could be a healthy alternative to that negative lifestyle that is too commonly fell into. In a study conducted, two hundred and ninety-nine Facebook users were surveyed to determine the amount of social support derived online from Facebook and offline via face-to-face contact (Indian & Grieve, 2014). The results of this study showed that both of these methods are positively correlated with social support, which means that neither of these methods is more beneficial than other but Facebook is a good alternative and provides the same comfort and emotional satisfaction as face-to-face contact would. This is beneficial to senior citizens because with age comes decreased mobility and the fact that Facebook provides the same interactions as physically talking to a person does, it gives a very viable reason why this application would be extremely beneficial for the aging population to utilize and stay adapted to throughout the aging process.
Skype is an application used strictly used for video chatting and having that face-to-face contact with individuals while eliminating the issue of distance. One unique aspect of Skype, which has become a commonly used in today’s world, is one that can improve physical health. One article mentions how elderly users of this application are able to Skype their physicians in order to discuss their medical needs, updates on medications and health conditions without having to drive a distance to see them (Berner, 2014). This aspect of Skype is super helpful for this population due to the fact that independence in older age is usually lacking and seniors can not always drive themselves to their own appointments and see a doctor regularly. By utilizing this application seniors are able to improve their health by significantly increasing the amount of doctors appointments they actually attend. Skype just like Facebook increases social connectedness within the community and allows seniors to get out and meet individuals as well as stay up to date with their family members who may not live nearby. One study sampled over 1400 Swedish older adults and the results they had from using the internet (Berner, 2014). The results of this study showed that not only were the majority of the individuals using the internet were younger in age and had higher educational levels but the outcome of their personality traits in older adults were higher among those who used the internet (Berner, 2014). All of these benefits from the utilizations of Skype are just more backing on why older adults should become more in tune with today’s technological advances.
When it comes to issues that arise and reasons why these individuals may struggle to use social media tools, many would think that it is do to the lack of accessibility to a phone or a computer but this is not always the case. One study stated how that still in this year there are lower amounts of adults who have a degree of technology adaptation then younger adults under the age of sixty-five (Hanson, 2010). This study also stated how older adults over the age of sixty-five do not have an equal level of access using computers and phones as do younger adults (Hanson, 2010). This means that older adults may need some extended assistance on accessing and signing up for these applications, but following these steps the older adults should not have many issues using these tools are there own. Another article which did a study looking at the different determinants on older adults not using the internet found that the main determinants affecting internet usage in older adults have less likely to do with psycho-social determinants and more with socio-demographic and health determinants involving the age, education, and overall cognitive health of the individual (Bermer, 2014). The issue of age and cognitive health highly influence their mental ability to not only access but also functionally navigate through applications like Facebook or Skype.
Technology is constantly evolving and it’s extremely beneficial for older adults to stay involved and up to date with these changes. Technology is not crucial within society but it is definitely a part of today’s life which society has become extremely dependent on. Through the two applications discussed its obvious that staying connected with technology throughout the aging process provides a much happier and healthier lifestyle for adults. Facebook and Skype are both two useful applications, which keep seniors connected and involved, and feel as if they are apart of family and friends lives regardless of location.
Berner, J.: Psychosocial, Socio-Demographic and Health Determinants in Information Communication Technology Use by Older-Adults (2014). Blekinge Institute of Technology, Suède
Burzynska, A. (2017). Depression & Mental Health. Retrieved from Lecture.
Indian, M., & Grieve, R. (2014). When Facebook is easier than face-to-face: Social support derived from Facebook in socially anxious individuals. Personality and Individual Differences, 59, 102-106. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2013.11.016
Hanson, V. L. (2010). Influencing technology adoption by older adults. Interacting with Computers, 22(6), 502-509. doi:10.1016/j.intcom.2010.09.001