Unfortunately for many teens addicted to social networking, it seems there is now more to worry about than Mom spotting the party pics your friends posted on Facebook over the weekend (prompting a diatribe about how those kids are “no good”). With more and more senior citizens finding their way into the social media sphere that has thus far been dominated by the younger generation, kids may soon find friend requests from their grandparents when they log into their Facebook accounts. It’s bad enough for Mom to read about your first kiss, but grandma too? Social suicide. However, seniors are the largest growing demographic on social networking sites, according to a recent study, so even adults may have to get used to their baby-boomer parents reading their Twitter feed.
The survey was conducted by the Pew Internet Project, which discovered that out of a sampling of 2, 277 adults, 65% who are already on the internet are utilizing social networking, a number that has gone up only 4% in the last year. And the over-30 demographic realized only 1% growth in the number reporting a move to social networking. Seniors, which is to say people aged 50-64, saw a huge jump comparatively, with the percentage reported usage going from 20% up to 32%, a whopping increase of 60% over the previous year. And that number only looks to keep growing as more and more elderly consumers become aware of the connectivity offered by social networking sites.
In truth, this “graying” of social media is not only good news for social networking, which has a virtually untapped market for expansion, but it’s also great for the elder generations, for a number of reasons. Many elderly people are alone. Their families live far away, their friends have moved or passed away, and they no longer have the socialization of work to experience human companionship. In some cases, they are really and truly alone, with no family to speak of. Additionally, they may be confined to their homes or even a bed if they suffer from debilitating ailments. Social networking can provide these hampered individuals the opportunity to stay connected to distant friends and family and remain vital and involved in a life that is otherwise unreachable. And of course, the internet provides a space in which age is irrelevant, making it easy to form friendships and open lines of communication across all physical barriers.
So it’s really not surprising that a growing number of seniors are discovering all that social networking can offer. Of course, the study also indicates that the majority of seniors on these networks are not checking their accounts daily, as younger people tend to. But then, everything is so immediate to the young, whereas life experience has taught older adults that all things happen in their own good time. The point is that a group of people that was formerly relegated to secondary status because of their inability to connect with others now has an open avenue of communication with the world. So whether you’re talking about seniors at retirement communities in Tulsa or Toronto retirement homes in Paris or Puerto Vallarta, or nursing homes in San Francisco or Sydney, all can partake of the social networking revolution to stay connected to the world and enjoy a higher quality of life. Who knew the internet could offer so much?