Friday, April 29, 2011

Social Networking for Seniors

As a Communications Manager, I’ve been trying to learn more about social media and how this new way of communicating can be beneficial to reach the different groups we work with – residents, prospective residents, adult children, staff members, colleagues and the broader public.

Part of my goal has been to find the appropriate channels of communication for our different publics and find ways to get our residents involved with social media activities and postings.

To educate myself, I’ve been reading different articles and a few studies to learn more about social networking and older adults. According to a *Pew Research Center study released in August of last year, “Social networking use among internet users, ages 50 and older, has nearly doubled from 22% to 42% over the past year.” I’m sure this amount has increased even more since then!

The Pew Research Center study showed there were many implications why social media might be catching on for older adults and I found the results to be quite interesting. The three main implications include:

1) “...social networking users are much more likely to reconnect with people from their past, and these renewed connections can provide a powerful support network when people near retirement or embark on a new career.”
2) “...older adults are more likely to be living with a chronic disease, and those living with these diseases are more likely to reach out for support online.”
3) "...social media bridges generational gaps. While the results can sometimes be messy, these social spaces pool together users from very different parts of people’s lives and provide the opportunity to share skills across generational divides.”

There’s no doubt, social media and internet use is growing across all generations! And these new ways of communicating can be beneficial to help our seniors stay connected with family and friends, educate themselves about chronic diseases and other health topics and provide an amazing opportunity to leave a legacy and share their skills and talents with others.


*Pew Research Center, Older Adults and Social Media: Social networking use among those ages 50 and older nearly doubled over the past year.
Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist (August 27, 2010)
Report URL: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Older-Adults-and-Social-Media.aspx

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Christie Munson, CSA, lives and works in Phoenix, AZ and is the Communications Manager for a retirement community and a Professional Organizer, specializing in senior services. She can be contacted via email at simplify-life@cox.net.