#TRUMP TWEETS TOO MUCH!!!  So Say American Seniors

67% of American seniors say President Trump tweets too much.  Hardly surprising, you might say.

According to a 2017 study by the highly regarded Pew Research Center, the use of technology and social media by seniors in the United States reveals some interesting trends:

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  • 4 in 10 seniors now own smartphones, more than double the share that did so in 2013
  • Internet use and broadband adoption among those 65-69 with incomes of $75k+ is 94% compared to 51% respectively for seniors generally
  • 32% own tablets, which rises to 62% of younger, better educated and higher income seniors; while
  • 34% of seniors report using social media (rising to 56% for college educated) representing a 7% increase from 2013.

Clearly, US seniors are adopting communications technologies at an impressive rate, even more so among younger, better educated and higher income seniors.

While these findings are undoubtedly interesting, they did not tell us how seniors use the internet and how they use social media.  Which is why SJ Insights launches its digital /social media panel.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Among the highlights of the early findings are:

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87% log in to Facebook twice a day or more

50% are very concerned that they are reading “fake news”; and

67% believe that President Trump should not be using Twitter to communicate as often as he does.

 

And why exactly are seniors using social media?  Various organizations concerned with seniors’ well being have suggested the following:

  • Seniors benefit socially, mentally and physically, including reported elevated moods, increased participation in healthier activities such as cooking healthier recipes, lower blood pressure, fewer instances of diabetes and less smoking
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  • Keeping the family together by sharing messages, photos, video chats …
  • A greater sense of community by allowing seniors to make plans with others and combat loneliness for those who are housebound
  • Giving the family peace of mind by allowing adult children to check in with their parents on a regular basis
  • The convenience and savings of shopping online; and
  • The comfort of entertainment.

But some precautions should be taken.  Adult children will want to be sure that their loved ones are not falling for phishing scams.  That they are not connecting with untrustworthy people in chat rooms.  And that they don’t spend too much.

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What observations and conclusions can be drawn from these studies?

  • The use of technology among seniors is increasing. And in ten years, today’s younger seniors will be the older ones.  And they will be social media literate
  • Most important studies on this topic are undertaken in the States. More work is needed in Canada
  • More study is needed to determine whether the initial observations and hypotheses hold true
  • There is a large market for social media applications geared to seniors which has probably not been fully exploited; and
  • The benefits of social media literacy among seniors may have implications for the amount and type of care given to some seniors. And some adult children may be more comfortable living slightly further away from their aging parents.

Let me know what you think     

Are you caring for aging parents?  How social media literate are they?  Are there applications you would like to see developed for seniors? Should we be doing anything to foster the use of social media among less educated, lower-income and older seniors? Do you think current trends are positive or do we have reason to be concerned?  Are you aware of any Canadian studies on this topic? I look forward to hearing from you.

Twitter  #Hold the Tweets Donald!!  Seniors and Social Media https://bit.ly/2KsSKbj

Facebook  What you need to know about seniors and social media https://bit.ly/2KsSKbj

4 thoughts on “#TRUMP TWEETS TOO MUCH!!!  So Say American Seniors

  1. I’m very interested in the comment “Seniors benefit socially, mentally and physically, including reported elevated moods, increased participation in healthier activities such as cooking healthier recipes, lower blood pressure, fewer instances of diabetes and less smoking”. The research I did for my article all referred to studies that show how bad social media is for mental health. Which makes me wonder, do seniors use social media differently than younger generations or do they perceive it differently? I would love to know more!

  2. Thanks for your comments. I am certainly no expert on this but I suspect that one factor is that seniors are probably less exposed to social media so suffer fewer side effects than younger folks. And given their perspectives and realities toward the end of their lives, may appreciate the benefits more. Remember as well that the organizations I referenced are advocacy as opposed to research groups. But I think that we definitely need more studies on seniors in Canada in particular to see if the American figures hold up and if there are changes in behaviour over time.

  3. For my mother-in-law, the contacts she had across Canada, the U.S. and abroad were primarily maintained through social media in her later years. Although she was a bit wary of Facebook as she was never fully confident about where she was posting — was it on her timeline, a friend’s or in a random group — Facebook was vital to maintaining her social network. It also facilitated the sharing of pictures of important life events such as the birth of a new grandchild or the marriage of a loved one. In later years, she upgraded from a clunky desktop computer to an iPad which was much easier given her limited mobility. When she eventually moved into an assisted living facility in Vancouver to be closer to my sisters-in-law and left behind her community on Vancouver Island of 30 years, the social media link became even more critical. Similarly, her sister found social media essential to maintaining social contacts when her ability to travel and visit became more limited. She even advanced to using FaceTime to keep in touch with loved ones but we had to remind her gently that as much as she could see us, we could see her…..so attending to personal issues while online was not a necessarily a good idea. (I wonder how many times when she was a young mom that she told her kids “Don’t pick your nose”. Funny how things come full circle.) Studies often show that maintaining one’s social network is a key factor as we age and I think it helped maintain both these ladies’ mental outlook and well-being despite a number of health challenges.

    As for excessive tweeters (such as Mr T), I know both sisters never had time for braggarts or those who felt the need to express him/her self constantly. I’m sure they would fully agree with other seniors on the matter.

    I can still hear the two of them laughing at each other’s jokes…..although both have now passed.

    • Thanks very much for your considered and touching reply. Glad to hear that some of what I wrote resonated. The importance of social media to your mother and aunt came through very clearly. How old were they when they adopted the practice?

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