Social Media and Seniors: Tips for Getting Started

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If an older adult you love has been kicking around the idea of joining Facebook, they will be in good company.  According to Pew Internet Research, 27% of seniors use social media.  Facebook counts older adults as its fastest growing segment of the population.

Reasons Older Adults are Joining Facebook

Older adults are joining Facebook for a variety of reasons. Those cited most often include:

• Locating and catching up with old friends
• Keeping in touch with family and friends
• Receiving coupons and shopping deals from favorite companies
• To enjoy playing games with friends

For most seniors, Facebook offers friendship and socialization that is sometimes harder to come by if they are no longer able to drive or they live alone.  Since loneliness has been identified as a serious health risk for older adults, social media can provide an easy way to stay connected.

Helping a Senior Loved One Get Started on Facebook

To help your aging loved one get started, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

• Be sure to review the Privacy settings with them and help them set theirs up. Because Facebook is notorious for making changes to their Privacy Policy, be certain you explain each new change that happens to your older loved one.

• Help them complete their About page. Include information that will help old and new friends find them, such as their education and employment history.

• Show them how to find friends, locate their favorite organizations and some of the companies and stores they like to shop at.

• Offer them a few safety tips such as not to accept Friend requests from people they don’t know. Also remind them not to give out personal information on Facebook. Posting updates that include planned vacations or when they will be away from home can make them more vulnerable to break-ins.

Our final piece of advice is to be patient. While it might take an older adult a little longer to learn this new form of technology, they will likely benefit from taking time to master it.