August 20, 2013
Social media is no longer dominated by the younger crowd. According to Pew Research, more older Americans are beginning to discover the benefits of sites such as Facebook, and a recent study shows that social media use among people over 50 is growing faster than for any other age group. While Facebook is the most frequented social media site for the older audience, it is possible that it will be the launching pad for interest in other services such as Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.
While older Americans may have previously thought that Facebook is a trivial site used by youngsters to share gossip and pictures of their lunch, many are discovering that it has the potential to improve their lives, explains Reuters.
“I grew up in western Pennsylvania, but I’ve lived in Iowa, Minnesota and North Carolina,” comments 58-year-old Christine Jensen. “And I was in all these places long enough to make good friends and professional relationships. It’s wonderful to be in touch with them, even just a little bit.”
Jensen is not the only person who feels this way. According to a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, usage among those 65 and older has tripled since 2009, from 13 percent to 43 percent; in the 50-to-64 age group, usage had risen from 24 percent to 60 percent.
“These are folks who have lived perfectly successful and happy lives for six decades or more without any of this stuff,” reports Aaron Smith, a researcher at Pew. “When they do adopt a social media platform, it’s because a friend or a family member has shown them how they can make your life better, or solve some problem you’ve had.”
While Facebook is the most popular site now, older Americans may branch out in the future to other social media sites.
“The second wave is when you move beyond that and start digging into it based on your interests. That’s Twitter, where you follow people who tweet about something you care about or find entertaining,” explains Tammy Gordon, vice president of social media at AARP, the country’s largest organization of older Americans.
Social media also help prevent feelings of isolation that older Americans may develop.
“Social media is going to help people stay more mentally engaged. It’s not just going to be a phone call once a week from grandchildren. It’s going to be, ‘I haven’t played Words with my nana today,'” suggests Gordon.
I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook, Mashable, 8/12/13