How long has it been a common joke that older people either don’t know how or don’t like to use newer technology? New punch-line: the joke’s now on whomever came up with that idea in the first place. In this past year, the number of people 65 or older who use some sort of social media service to keep up with friends and family has literally doubled.
Even though younger people still comprise the greatest number of people using them, the fact that so many seniors are now doing so puts the lie to the idea that they can’t keep up with technological developments. While the older these users are, the fewer they become in proportion to those younger than them, the gap has been closing.
Of course, this will be limited by the sheer difference in numbers of people over 65 and those under 29 years old, but it still says a lot about social media. Those same seniors who didn’t think it was worth it to learn about all kinds of developments that were “the new thing” years ago are going in for Facebook and Twitter in droves.
It’s understandable, too. Social media makes it possible to update all of your friends and family (at least, the ones on a service with you) in a matter of minutes rather than the hours or weeks it would take for traditional methods like phone calls or mail delivery. Since it’s more likely that seniors have moved farther away from their friends and family, because they’ve had more time to do so, they can really benefit from bringing them closer online.
So far, and that being only about seven years, social media has been predominantly the domain of the relatively young. However, with seniors using it more and more for maintaining their own circles, perhaps it’ll even become a place where the old and the young interact with each other more effectively – even closing the so-called generation gap as they’re forced to interact with each other through this new media.