Senior citizens can benefit from joining popular social networks because they provide a way for those living in active retirement communities to stay in touch with family members, especially if they don’t live nearby. With social media, elderly people can not only share videos and photos with family, but also remain up-to-date with the latest updates from their loved ones.
A recent study by Pew Research Center demonstrated an increase in Internet and social media use in the elderly population. It was reported earlier this year that roughly 70 percent of people ages 65 and older go online daily and 11 percent use the Internet three to five times each day. For the age group below, adults between 50 and 64 years old, almost 80 percent of respondents said they go online every day or close to it.
The study was conducted with about 1,500 people ages 65 and older. According to Pew, some senior citizens are held back from exploring the Internet due to financial and physical barriers. Research showed that some elderly people have difficulty reading and others simply struggle with daily activities. Still more don’t get involved with the Internet because they are skeptical, or they would need someone to help them over the technological learning curve. Many community organizations and retirement communities offer technology classes or personal assistance while learning how to use new devices.
A separate study out of Michigan State University and published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences analyzed data from 3,000 responses to the Health and Retirement Survey by Institute for Social Research. Over the six year observation period, researchers found that using the Internet can reduce depression by over 30 percent in senior citizens.
“It all has to do with older persons being able to communicate, to stay in contact with their social networks, and just not feel lonely,” said Sheila Cotten, a leader of the study who teaches telecommunication, information studies and media at MSU.