If you’re over 50 and cringe when you hear the words “social media” because you think it’s a time-wasting toy for youths, then think again. You might be surprised to learn that the fastest growing demographic in social media is actually seniors.
A 2011 survey of Internet users in the U.S. revealed that 65% of adults online are using social media sites. Boomers have been joining social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn at a rapid pace. The number of those aged 50-64 using social media increased an astonishing 60% in the past year.
Let’s face it, Boomers are not the type to settle into old age quietly. If you are a Boomer, you probably expect to live a full and active lifestyle well into your golden years. Social media is a tool to help enable that lifestyle. How? Through sharing. You can let others know about that cruise, dance contest, or white-water rafting excursion you recently took part in. Looking for someone to go to that weepy, Oscar-winning drama with you? Interested in checking out that chic new bistro in town? Put out an open invitation through Facebook or Twitter and see who might join you.
If you’re an empty-nester there’s no need to drift apart as a family. The best way to follow what your kids and their kids are doing is by joining them online. Social sites like Facebook help you stay in touch with distant family as well as friends. You can comment on their photos, send messages and do live chatting.
Social media helps people reconnect. Ever wondered what happened to the old gang from high school or college? You can reunite online to swap stories, share memories, brag about family or personal accomplishments and check out waistlines and hairlines.
Social media sites are also excellent ways to stay informed. Many news organizations and community resources employ blogs, Facebook and Twitter to connect with their audience. Why wait for the evening news?
If more Boomers are using social media, what about their parents? Don’t be surprised if older seniors aren’t the next group to adopt this tool. They’ve already become quite Internet savvy. A 2009 survey showed that 94% of seniors 65 or older used email regularly, 77% shopped online, 71% searched online for healthcare info, and 59% managed their finances online as well. Seven years ago, only 4% of seniors reported using the Internet regularly.
If there is a common concern about social media it’s usually that of privacy and security. Just as with using email, or conducting transactions online, it’s important to be careful with your information in terms of what and who you share it with. Social media sites let you adjust privacy settings for the level of security that suits you. If you’re unsure how to make it all work, there are social media consultants teaching businesses and individuals who can help you get started.
So give it a try and the next time someone mentions social media, tell them it’s not just for kids.