Facebook, Instagram and Staying Connected

Ariana Goldman


Technology Review for Seniors

Human interaction is something everyone needs. It has been proven in multiple studies that when growing up the most important thing a baby can get is physical contact and stimulation, if not, it causes detrimental impairment to the cognitive development of the child. The same goes for humans as they age. Just because the brain is no longer developing does not mean that the need for contact and closeness decreases any less, in fact if anything the need for closeness increases. As people age the amount of friends decline for multiple reasons, whether it be that as people age they become more selective of the friends they choose to keep around or inevitably their close friends begin to die, and sometimes the elderly have to be moved away from their friends and family and put into nursing homes because they are no longer able to take care of themselves and their family can not take care of them either. As a CNA (certified nurses assistant) I know and have seen that the residents do not get very many visitors besides the nurses and CNAs, but when they do get a visit from their family or even a phone call their whole face lights up. keeping in touch with friends and loved ones and being able to see them is something that is extremely important for the well being of the older generation, that is why apps like Facebook and Instagram are tools that would extremely improve the lives of the elderly.  Facobook is a great way for people to keep in touch with each other when they do not live in the same area or haven’t seen each other in a long time. It is also a great way to see updates of your friends and families lives when you are not with them. Instagram just like Facebook is a great way to see pictures loved ones, even though Facebook is a little bit more personal because events and gatherings can also be posted on Facebook along with photos and life updates, looking at pictures on Instagram is also very helpful for the elderly because it allows them to see and recognize the face of their loved one. The elderly need as much brain stimulation as possible to keep their minds sharp, and with looking at pictures and putting a name to a face helps not only to keep their mind sharp but to also see their loved ones and not feel so alone.

As aging progresses, memory begins to slow, interactions with friends and loved ones become less frequent, or introversion may occur. This is why Facebook is such a great tool for the elderly population to have. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004 and originally was only supposed to be used by students at Harvard University to share information and photos with each other but it gradually expanded from there and is now used worldwide by over 350 million people (Lin, Lu. 2011). Almost everyone has a Facebook now which makes it so easy to find loved ones. Facebook offers a multitude of ways to be involved with friends, family, and the community you live in. Facebook offers an events page where it shows events that are happening every day, week, weekend, and even the week after. Since the daily paper does not normally list small event that are going on in and around town, it is convenient that Facebook shows all the things that are happening around town no matter how big or small they are, and since the events  are all in the same window, it is easy to find all the events. Facebook is also a great tool to help the elderly feel connected because people post pictures and updates about their life consistently and in real time. Letters and post cards are a great way to keep in contact with people who live far away and it is always great to receive a letter, but so many things can happen when it comes to sending a letter in the mail. First off the mail is delivered very slowly so by the time a letter arrives something completely different could be happening, the letter could also get lost in the mail and never get to the person who it was meant for in the first place, and finally, the person who you are trying to send a letter could have moved and the address you have is not correct so the letter just gets sent back to the person who sent it. With Facebook on the other hand, everything is instantaneous. When you message someone they get it right away, some people do not check their E-Mails right away or even at all, they may not even have a notification on that says when a new E-Mail comes in, but with Facebook a notification pops up right away whether Facebook is being used from a computer or from a smart phone, Facebook sends a notification right away when someone sends a message, and with Facebook it is easier to share photos with people because pictures can be transferred from a smart phone to Facebook really simply. That saves the hassle of having to go get pictures printed out and then send them off in the mail. Facebook is also extremely easy to navigate. All of the letters are big and easy to read which is good for those who have declining vision and things like how to post a picture or where to write a little bit about how people are feeling is easy to find and easy to do which great for those who are not as tech savvy as others. All of these things put together makes Facebook a great tool for the elderly in keeping connected with everyone they love.

Along with Facebook, the app Instagram is also a great way to see pictures of your friends and loved ones. While it is a little more difficult to find the people you are looking for because on Instagram the users can have strange user names unlike Facebook where it is just their name specifically, Instagram is still a great way of seeing pictures. There is also a feature on Instagram where people can make live videos of what they are doing at that moment and the app will alert the people who are following them when their live video is streaming. Instagram will also let followers know when someone post who has not posted in a long time. Just like with Facebook, Instagram also has a place to message someone directly and they will receive the message instantaneously. Instagram may be a better way for the elderly to stay connected because according to a study conducted by Denise C Park, PhD; J. Thomas Puglisi, PhD; and Michelle Sovacoll, BA it was proved that when showing both elderly and younger audiences both pictures and words for item recognition, it was shown that both groups were shown to remember pictures more than they did with words “Park, Puglisi, Sovacoll. 2014”. Since Instagram is more picture based where as Facebook is more based on updates and not so much pictures Instagram could in fact be better for the elderly to use to look at peoples life and help with facial recognition as they age.

It is important to keep the brain stimulated as aging occurs as well as keeping in touch with others. By looking at pictures and posts, maybe even posting things themselves, this all helps to keep the brain engaged in activities and keep them up to date with things they may not know about the people in their lives. These apps also help to reconnect people who have not seen each other in years. I have a friend who’s grandfather reconnected with someone who he knew from Elementary School who he had not seen in over 50 years all because of Facebook. Even though most of the elderly population are not introverts there are some who are and do not get to talk to their loved ones as much as they want to or do not have very many visitors and can get very lonely. With apps and programs like Facebook and Instagram they are able to become connected with those they care about much easier than they would if they did not have those things, and thanks to Facebook they will know about things happening around them that they might not have known before. In 1943 a man named Abraham Maslow wrote a paper in which he stated that there are 4 steps that one must achieve in order to achieve self-actualization. This of course is known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and the third bracket in his pyramid is Love and Belonging, and without that humans can-not attain their highest self they need to have love and belonging, being connected to the world and to the ones we love gives us this sense of love and belonging, and that is why Facebook and Instagram are great tools for the elderly to have to stay connected with the ones that they love.


Lin, K. Y., & Lu, H. P. (2011). Why people use social networking sites: An empirical study integrating network externalities and motivation theory. Computers in Human Behavior27(3), 1152-1161.

Park, D. C., Puglisi, J. T., & Sovacool, M. (2014). Memory for pictures, words, and spatial location in older adults: Evidence for pictorial superiority. Journal of Gerontology38(5), 582-588


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