Staying connected is why people predominantly use social media (a close second is selling).
More than anything else, more than the fun, more than the brain training, or reading news articles or watching cat videos—staying connected is the biggest reason seniors should be (and are) on social media. Because for age that is so connected, loneliness and depression are at an all-time high.
In an age where talking with friends is only a few clicks away, people are lonelier than ever. Sadly, depression and a deep sense of loneliness is most prominent in older Americans.
What’s surprising is that even those who are married or live with partners are also lonely or depressed. This is because, despite their friendships and relationships they feel they are alone. What this tells us is that it’s not how many relationships you have, it’s the depth of the relationship. Typically, it’s seniors with depression or a deep sense of loneliness whose health declines rapidly, and who die sooner.
It’s been hypothesized that people who lose the will to live, simply go to bed one evening and die peacefully in their sleep—how this happens is still unclear.
We are not, by any stretch of the imagination, implying social media could solve this problem. What we are saying is that: seniors are not alone. And they should not have to feel alone.
An online chat or video call with friends or family each day can help remind them they are still loved, still interesting and that they are not alone.
One way they can connect with people, with friends, with loved ones is through the internet—whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, email or some other form of social media.
Social media cannot solve your problems. These platforms are only tools, and how you use those tools can either help improve your interactions with your friends and family and the world—or it can exacerbate your loneliness.
Loneliness is a horrible feeling. Being surrounded by people who love you, and who you love, and still feeling hollow is a hard thing to describe. It’s a hard place to be, mentally. A lot of darkness and not much hope.
Facebook can help you stay connected with friends and family. You can read the news and watch trailers for movies, TV shows, learn about new technologies and ideas. Facebook’s groups allow you to find people with similar interests who you can show new things to and vice versa.
Twitter, the internet’s cocktail party. You’ll find politicians tweeting, celebrities sharing photos, football scores, basketball scores. You can receive short updates about storms, snows, traffic accidents and road closures.
Twitter is where you can reach out to people and find out information that you need to know. You can actually tweet to celebrities, news broadcasters and politicians and ask them questions. There’s no guarantee they will reply, but on occasion you might be surprised.
LinkedIn is the best way to connect and interact with businesses—if you’re looking for work your LinkedIn profile can act as a resume. LinkedIn is the largest network for professionals online. You will not find a better place to interact with the professional community online. LinkedIn will provide you with a platform to blog about your ideas both business and professional—seniors can leverage their experiences both professional and personal to teach others.
Google+ has its uses. But it’s limping along behind the bigger, better social platforms. By all means explore and see if this platform is right for you, but in truth Facebook is a better place to be. Facebook is constantly evolving with the user in mind. Google is the best search engine on the internet. But as a social platform it lacks a lot of the subtleties that make the other platforms enjoyable.
Snapchat is platform for short video messaging that only lasts 24 hours from the time of taking it. Snapchat also has news, sports, entertainment—in itself it’s a platform for sharing messages and funny videos and can be a source of entertainment for seniors.
Pinterest is a visual bookmark for all the activities you’d like to do, recipes you’d like to make. It’s a way to explore new ideas, and old ideas, to find new books, new knitting patterns, new music, and new fashions.
Social media can help seniors with stay connected across continents, across the world. You will find that in engaging in social media, the platform you chose will help you to feel more awake, more alive. But remember: any social media platform is only a tool, and like any tool it requires someone who knows what they’re doing to make it work.
Used properly, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest can provide entertaining, education and connection. Used properly, these platforms can help you stay connected and active.