Don’t be surprised if grandpa starts to follow you on Instagram and Twitter! Many people his age—65 and older—are moving high-speed toward more digitally connected lives. A Pew Research Center study finds that roughly two-thirds of today’s seniors use the Internet, and that number is quickly growing.
Online, many older adults are drawn to social media sites that can help them connect with family and friends, exchange ideas and information and learn new things. Being able to access social media from the comfort and convenience of home is especially appealing to seniors, many of whom are more home-based than they may like.
What to “Like” About Social Networking
Social networking presents a world of opportunity for older adults to keep up with people, current events and technology.
- Sharing Instagram photos and videos helps families remain close
- Re-connecting with long-lost friends or coworkers on Facebook widens social circles
- Online forums and chat groups allow seniors to stay socially engaged with peers
- Older adults can communicate face-to-face with friends and loved ones using Skype
- Pinterest images inspire ideas for recipes, decorating, travel, fitness, fashion and home projects
- Online influencers rouse followers’ passions and interests
- Senior websites provide a wealth of information on topics relevant to older adults
- YouTube videos demonstrate how to do just about anything from baking a cake to hanging curtains to holding a yoga pose
- Plus, well, SHOPPING!
Getting started with social networking is exciting, but remember to exercise caution. When creating social networking profiles, carefully review the policies of each site. Always set privacy and security settings to the highest level, and, if you have the option, make your email address private. When you receive a request from others to join your network, to follow you or be your “friend,” accept requests from only those whom you know and delete invitations from strangers. Never share your login or password with any person or organization online.
Where Grown-ups Go for the Online Scoop
Several websites, such as the examples listed below, provide a wealth of content and a community geared exclusively toward older adults.
- AARP: aarp.org
A comprehensive, trusted site jam-packed with useful articles, videos and senior discounts.
- Retirement Life Matters: retirementlifematters.com
Calling itself RetireWOW, it creates a community for sharing tools, resources and guidance for a better retirement.
- Love to Know Seniors: seniors.lovetoknow.com
Devoted to the unique needs of seniors, articles cover finance, fashion, family and everything in between.
- The Senior's Guide to Computers: seniorsguidetocomputers.com
Walks users through everything computer- and web-related with an easy-to-navigate “Learning Center.”
Senior Forums and Chat Rooms
These online meeting spaces are great places to talk and share ideas with other seniors who have similar interests. Starting a virtual conversation is easy on the following sites.
- Seniors Only: SENIORSonly.club
Users must provide a first and last name, but, if you’re nervous, use pretend names to partake in philosophical discussions or request advice from members.
- Senior Forums: Seniorforums.com
Get questions answered by peers within an active online community that is available to address a variety of topics.
- Senior 321Chat: 321Chat.com
A friendly community where seniors can chat and build friendships.
Online influencers have a huge number of followers and the ability to sway other peoples’ attitudes and sentiments. Follow influencers who share content and a viewpoint that personally speaks to you. Here are two senior influencers with two very different messages.
- Baddie Winkle @officialbaddiewinkle
This colorful, bold 91-year-old woman is on a mission to squash myths about aging. With a Facebook bio that says, “Stealing your man since 1928,” and 2.5 million followers, she’s crushing it!
- Marty Schrieber @MyTwoElaines
A former Wisconsin governor and Alzheimer caregiver for his wife, Marty gives fellow caregivers sage advice and candid counsel with a subtle touch of humor.