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Seniors shed common myths as they adopt social media

December 9, 2013

Social media is seemingly everywhere these days, and recent research has shown that adults 65 and older are quickly getting on board with the use of websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Statistics from the Pew Research Center revealed that seniors are the fastest-growing demographic on social media, and experts say this population's interest in Facebook, Twitter and other websites is helping reshape the way some people view senior living, NPR reported.

One of the biggest takeaways from the findings is that seniors are not as unfamiliar with technology as the general population may think. Rather, their seeming lack of online presence has more to do with the fact that they don't feel they can benefit from making use of it, according to Laura Carstensen, a researcher at the Center on Longevity at Stanford University.

"I think one of the myths is older people just can't manage technology because of cognitive deficits," Carstensen told NPR. "But it appears that a bigger reason for the failure to use digital technologies is the lack of perceived need. For a lot of older people, they're quite satisfied with their social relationships, their friendships, their contact with loved ones."

Although seniors may be happy with their relationships and friendships, that does not mean there aren't benefits to making use of the latest social media destinations. One study released earlier this year from researchers at the University of Luxembourg, found that older adults managing an illness or chronic condition may see better outcomes if they make use of social media. The findings were based on an analysis of previously conducted studies and revealed that older adults can use social media to access health-related information and discuss their condition with users who are managing the same health issues.