“There’s that saying that ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ But I think that as we age, continuing to learn is essential and fun,” said Willie Miesner, a resident at Laclede Groves Senior Living Community in Webster Groves, Missouri. “Anyone at any age can learn new things. Technology and social media sites are one of the things that I continue to learn more about with the help of family and friends.”
What do Seniors Use Social Media for?
Willie has found the benefits of social media for seniors. While being able to stay connected with family and friends and create new, meaningful relationships, she’s also built on her interests and hobbies.
“I have a great group of friends here at Laclede Groves but being on social media has created an even greater community and connections for me. Plus, there are so many things and people to learn from. It’s opened and sparked interest in new activities that before I wouldn’t have considered.”
What are the Benefits of Social Media for Seniors?
Just as with all other age groups, social media for seniors provides increased opportunities to connect and socialize with friends and family who might live far away. Throughout COVID-19, social media also kept many from being isolated and reduced feelings of loneliness. Seniors also have the opportunity to grow their skills and hobbies by utilizing groups on social media platforms to share their craft. It’s also a great place to teach others!
While there are many benefits of social media for seniors, it’s important that with any activity online, everyone needs to protect themselves from potential scammers. Do not believe unknown callers or email senders offering or requesting help. It is always best to be safe and check with someone you know and trust. Keep your passwords secure, long, strong and updated, as well as having security questions for all your social media accounts.
4 Popular Social Platforms for Seniors
Willie has found several social media platforms that she suggests other older adults to try and learn about. Sharing her tips for getting started, Willie explains why learning and participating on social media platforms can be positive.
“I enjoy staying connected with family, friends and former colleagues through Facebook. I feel closer to loved ones who live out of state.” In creating a free account, seniors can connect with friends and family members, as well as join social groups to share pictures, videos, and articles, in addition to their own updates. It’s a great way to stay in touch with a wide group of people.
Residents at Laclede Groves and across other Lutheran Senior Services communities paint, sew, woodwork, and play musical instruments. They find community with one another, their families, and friends to share their talents, highlighted on the many LSS Life Plan Community and Affordable Housing Facebook pages where they’re featured.
“I think it’s amazing that I can see people who are thousands of miles away from my computer or phone.” Zoom and Skype are video platforms that allow people to see one another, talking as if they were sitting in the same room. Many other similar platforms are available including Google Duo or FaceTime.
Willie uses Zoom for virtual meetings. “Since the pandemic, it has been great to have family get-togethers virtually and connect with friends. We have celebrated birthdays virtually on Zoom and even Facetime and Google Duo, not to mention a couple online happy hours.”
“I’ve learned a few things from just watching other people’s videos – last week I figured out how to sing ‘Oh, Canada’ in French after looking up the lyrics.” YouTube is a free video-based platform where you can upload, view, or share videos. You could watch sports highlights, movie trailers, learn how to change a tire, or how to dance.
With an easy search feature, YouTube allows you to type in any query or topic and find related videos. And if you want to contribute videos, you can upload and share your own content. YouTube has corners and communities for all interests.
“My daughter loves Pinterest. It’s a way for her to collect and organize ideas into boards. All her favorite recipes and inspirational home and garden design photos are now on Pinterest as a visual collection from other various websites.”
With a free Pinterest account, you can gather and save website pages to view later. You can also find people who have common interests and follow them – meaning you can see what they post and pin to their own boards. Pinterest boards can also be made private so only you can see the content.
Getting Help with Social Media
Much of Willie’s tech savviness she also credits to her daughters and her friend’s son who helps her out in a pinch. “Whenever I have questions, they’ve been a big help to me. And having someone teach me something new is a benefit to them too. Learning from one another is a way that I can connect with people.” Family members and other friends are a great resource for asking questions. Many libraries and local colleges also offer free courses to get started.
“It is great to continue to learn and grow,” Willie said. “Staying up to date with technology is just one way that I continue to live life to the fullest.”
Social media can open doors for conversation with old and new friends. It’s a place to share the important and not-so-important things going on in life. To learn new things and share things learned. And just as social media can be for all ages, social media for seniors can also provide great benefits.