Social Media for the Elderly: How the family can stay in touch
Social media has exploded in popularity in recent years, and it has changed the way that we communicate. It is often associated more with young people, but elderly people can get just as much enjoyment out of using it.
If you have an elderly friend or relative who you think could benefit from social media, here’s a look at the fantastic benefits along with some guidelines to follow.
Benefits of Social Media for Older People
Elderly people can get a lot out of social media. For many, it is something completely new, but you may be surprised at how quickly they get the hang of it – and how much they enjoy it. Some of the main benefits include:
- It is good for cognitive capacity and boosting self-competence. This can increase their independence, which can be good for their wellbeing and overall mental health.
- It can make them feel less isolated, especially if they have friends and family all over the world. They could speak face-to-face on Skype, share photos and share stories. This may be particularly valuable if they have children and grandchildren living away from home.
- They could find old friends and catch up with people they have lost touch with over the years. Social media is great for rekindling friendships, and they might even be able to meet up in person.
- Social media can be a great way to keep up-to-date with news and current affairs.
- They might use social media to learn new things such as hobbies and skills. Or they could join communities of people who share the same interests and make new friends.
Sensible Social Media Guidelines to Follow
Even if your friend or relative is very keen to get involved with social media, there are a few guidelines that they should follow.
Firstly, help them to be careful with the amount of personal information they share. This may involve helping them with their privacy settings so they can keep personal details like date of birth and address hidden.
Make sure they only share their details with people they know, and explain how they should not publish details of when they are not at home. Anything that could indicate to a potential thief, so they should be overly careful to start with.
Explain the whole nature of social media and how the things they say will often be public. Discuss the different platforms because they may prefer a more private service like WhatsApp compared to public postings like on Twitter.
Explain that they should be wary of people they don’t know asking for contact. Elderly people can sometimes be vulnerable to con artists, and they should never share their financial details.
Help them to install and upgrade their antivirus software and set the firewall. Teach them the basics of internet security and help them to choose a good password. We wrote a guide on cyber security recently.
Finally, always make sure they know they can come to you if they are unsure about anything, and help them if they have any questions.
Enjoy the Benefits of Social Media
Elderly people can benefit enormously from social media and the internet in general. Just make sure they follow a few guidelines, and help them to set up their accounts and make the most of them. You may be surprised by how quickly they get the hang of it.