Seniors trending as fastest growing demographic on social media

Are you keeping up with what your children or grandchildren are doing on Facebook? Do you follow any favourite writers, politicians or celebrities on Twitter? Or maybe you’re only vaguely aware of what Instagram is—and you’re just not interested.

Social media platforms such as Facebook used to be the domain of young people, but not anymore. 

A 2016 study by Pew Research Center found that 34 per cent of American seniors use social networking sites like Facebook, up from 27 per cent in 2013. Older adults are the fastest growing demographic of all Facebook users. 

The study also found that a significant 70 per cent of internet users in the 65+ age group visit Facebook every day. So why are so many seniors potentially jumping on the social media bandwagon?

It’s a way to stay in touch with friends and family.
Many older adults say they made the initial jump onto social media because they wanted to see the latest photos of their new grandbabies. Many people also enjoy experiencing a friend’s commentary or photos from a vacation. Social media is an immediate way to feel close and connected with people we care about, and can also foster a sense of community and belonging when we join online groups with like-minded people.

It’s a way to stay entertained and informed.
Social media can be fun! Who doesn’t enjoy a short clip of a puppy playing in a sprinkler, or even watching a YouTube video of a 1960s TV show? Some seniors also get their news online, although most still prefer traditional TV news, radio and newspapers.

Social media use tied to better health?
There is a growing body of research that says that seniors on Facebook enjoy some other benefits, too. A 2016 Michigan State University study using data from 591 participants (average age 68) in the U.S. Health and Retirement Study found that 95 per cent of those who used social networking platforms were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with using social media. What is more interesting, however, was that these seniors were generally also more satisfied with their lives, reporting fewer bouts of depression and chronic conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes. 

This may be due to the “social” factor in the use of social media, as now there is solid evidence to show that the more socially connected a senior is, the healthier and happier they tend to be. However, while social media can help encourage and maintain those connections, nothing can replace spending “in-person” time with family and friends—vital to every older adult’s physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Chartwell has over 200 residences across the country offering a variety of lifestyle options—from independent and assisted living to long term care. The common denominator for each is that they are inherently social settings—places where seniors can socialize on their own terms, meet and make new friends, or simply sleep well at night knowing someone is always there if they need anything. To learn more about the lifestyle in a Chartwell residence, visit chartwell.com