Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seniors 'Get' Social Media

A recent AARP study showed that more than 60 percent of all tech-savvy seniors (those who owned and use a computer) in Washington State were participating in some form of social media. This trend toward increased use of social media by seniors has continued in all 50 states as more and more people 65 and older discover just how beneficial social media can be for their lives.

Before social media if you wanted to keep up with your children or grandchildren once they moved away you either had to wait for them to call you (which was rare) or risk being treated as an intruder and call them. This is a frustrating turn of events for people who have spent most of their lives raising youngsters before turning them loose on the world.

Fortunately, social media allows seniors to stay in touch, remain a part of the day-to-day lives of their children and keep track of the widening family circle. They can see photos, watch videos and be a part of conversations from miles away.
But the benefits of social media use for seniors doesn't stop there. Once they begin to use social media and feel more comfortable with it they will be more likely to take advantage of its many other uses. They will get inside information on things to do in their community: sales, coupons; new restaurants and programs.

For business owners the fact that seniors are the fastest growing segment of the social media community is great news. This demographic represents a group of people with more disposable income and a hankering to get involved, go out and do something.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

Nearly six in 10 computer users age 65 and up have a Facebook account. In fact, seniors are joining Facebook in record numbers to stay in touch with the family and find out friends.

"Where else would you can you reconnect with people you haven't seen for 40 years, right?" said Marsha Collier, who wrote the book, "Facebook and Twitter for Seniors for Dummies."

Collier says it's natural to use social media to keep an eye on what your kids and grand kids are doing. But she says you need to resist the urge to meddle or be judgmental.

"Realize that you are an invited guest into their space and you don't want them to make their posts private. You want to see what they're doing. So don't go to them and make judgments. Just observe, enjoy and realize that you can be a part of their lives. And the same thing with your friends. It's all out there on the Internet. It's all very public. So everything you put down reflects on you. Every word you say is on there forever. It's an open forum."

She says you need to accept the language you may find on your children's or grandchildren's sites.

"That's their vernacular. That's the way they talk," she says. "So let them talk to each other. It's a much more transparent and open world we live in right now. Just enjoy that you can observe all this."

Click here to read more about seniors and social media.

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