More people are using the internet every day and many of these people are now using social networking sites regularly. While younger adults and teenagers are more likely to use social media than older adults, the growth in social media use for older internet users has skyrocketed in recent years. According to PewInternet, People ages 65 and older have roughly tripled their presence on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in the last four years. In 2009 only 13% were using social networking sites but now 43% are connecting with friends and family on social media.
Elderly adults’ increased internet and social media use has led to many interesting studies. Since many elderly adults are increasingly isolated and struggle with depression and loneliness, social media and internet use can help them stay connected to their friends and family. A study published by Shelia Cotton, a sociologist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, found that older adults who were active on the internet experienced a 30% decrease of depressive symptoms. At a panel at last year’s Annual Scientific Meeting on Aging, Dr. Laura Carstensen, the director of Stanford University’s Center on Longevity, explained how these social networking sites are proving to be an entrance into technology for older adults. They can instantly be connected with friends and family without being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the internet. We hope more studies like these continue to come out and that social media continues to enrich and extend the lives and happiness of older adults.