How social media can combat isolation in older adults

Social media connects people from all over the world. So it comes as no surprise that social networking sites can reduce feelings of loneliness in older adults, a fact backed up by a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Gerontologist.

However, the technology gap between older and younger generations leaves seniors behind in keeping up with the newest tech. Approximately 50% of issues seniors have with technology are due to usability, according to No Isolation, a Norwegian company founded to reduce loneliness and social isolation. With such digital exclusion — especially during the social isolation of the pandemic — what can we do to reduce this gap?

Increase your digital literacy

There are several ways you can become more tech-savvy. You can call upon friends or family who can help you navigate the internet, purchase how-to books, go to free courses that improve digital literacy at local colleges or find free online courses.

Change the settings on your phone, computer or laptop to increase font sizes so you can increase readability. Consider adding voice commands to narrate what you click on and what you read. To protect yourself from online scams, download anti-virus software that will stop you from clicking on unsecured sites.

Social media usage

AARP recommends seniors use social media. Track how you feel after spending time online, as too much social media usage can have negative impacts. But don’t be afraid to create an account on your preferred social networking site, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Twitter.

The American Psychology Association published a study that found that using social media websites can help older adults become healthier. Online community spaces such as Facebook groups can connect older adults with each other based on common interests. Additionally, social media sites can improve cognitive capacity, sense of self-competence and physical and mental wellbeing.

For older adults searching for a platform for their age group, a new social media site called Teacup is set to launch this year. Teacup is a voice-first social network connecting seniors with each other and designed for easy usability among seniors.

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