Social media is a huge part of our modern day society. These websites and apps help to bring people together through photographs, tweets, video calling and instant messaging. You can gain access to social media platforms on your computer, mobile phones and tablets – and more and more versions are being released each year.
Stereotypically, social media is often linked to the younger generation. Teenagers and the like are constantly on their phones, messaging their friends and uploading “selfies” to their personal profiles.
However, it turns out that older people are also becoming more accustomed to social media. In fact, in June (2017) it was reported that the number of over 75s using social media had doubled in the last year.
The Ofcom report also found that:
Some 48% of online baby boomers aged 65 to 74 now have a social media profile, as do 41% of over 75’s, up from 19% a year ago.”
You may have seen our Top 10 Hobby Ideas for older people already. This article will focus directly on the top five social media platforms for older people.
The original social media game changer, Facebook connects the world through a series of personal profiles. The website was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg and fellow Havard College students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.
Anybody who creates an account on Facebook will need to create their profile. On your profile page, you can create photo albums, add a biography, add friends and create statuses about what’s on your mind.
The main aim of the Facebook social media website is for you to connect (or re-connect) to your friends and family – no matter where they live in the world. As a Facebook member, you can leave comments on your friend’s photographs and statuses. Alternatively, you can talk privately on the Facebook Messenger.
Using Facebook is a great way for you to see what exciting holidays and activities your friends and family are taking part in. You can access Facebook on your computer, mobile phone and tablet device.
Twitter offers a similar social media platform as Facebook, but on a smaller scale. Like its rival, Twitter allows you to create your own profile page. On this website, you can add a profile picture, a header picture and a short biography about yourself.
On Twitter, instead of having friends you can “follow” your friends and family’s profiles. This means that you can see their profile pages and like their tweets. A tweet is Twitter’s version of a status and is limited to 280 characters. Up until November 2017, you were only able to use 140 characters.
The aim of Twitter is for you to share brief updates on what you’re getting up to, or what your thoughts are on a certain event that is currently occurring. Through the use of hashtags, you can connect to a global network of people who are talking about the same topic.
A hashtag that is being used quite a lot will begin to ‘trend’ on Twitter. Sporting events such as the Formula One and a football match commonly trigger a trending hashtag. The great thing about Twitter is that you can tailor your account to your own interests.
For example, if you’re a huge cricket fan you can choose to only follow accounts associated with that sport. This means that your home page will only contain content that you’re interested in, unlike on Facebook where you may be faced with statuses that you don’t have an interest in.
Celebrities, sports stars and companies often use Twitter as a way of communicating with their fans and customers. You can choose to like, reply and re-tweet those tweets that you do take an interest in.
Instagram takes a different approach to social media. The main aim of Instagram is to create your own unique page full of photographs, either from your camera phone or from the internet. The website was created in 2010 and was acquired by Facebook in 2012 following its huge success.
The Instagram app is aimed at mobile phone users. Any photos that you take on your phone can be uploaded to your Instagram account. You can also edit your photographs with the use of special filters. Once your photograph has been prepared, you can add a little comment which will appear beneath the upload. Commonly, people use this area to explain what the photo is about and where it was taken.
Like Twitter, you can also use hashtags to connect to others that are talking about that place or topic. On Instagram, you have followers rather than friends, all of whom will be able to like and comment on your photographs.
Like the two social media platforms already mentioned in this post, your home page on Instagram will be full of photographs uploaded by the people that you have chosen to follow. This means that you can tailor your account to suit your interests.
Skype is a video calling social media platform, which was launched in 2003. Skype allows users to video call people on their friends lists, a function that is perfect for the older generation. This service will allow you stay in touch with your loved ones, even if they are not in the same country.
Skype is a great way to communicate and see the faces of those who you care about. A great example of this would be grandparents using Skype to video call their grandchildren who may have moved to university or to another city following graduation.
Being able to video call can also help to combat loneliness. Even if you struggle with mobility, you can now see and speak with your friends and family. Skype is available on your computer, mobile phone and tablet device. It is also possible to have a group video chat on Skype.
You will need to be connected to the internet for the service to work on your computer. You can video call on your mobile using data but it will need to be in an area with a strong signal, as the call quality will suffer if you’re not.
Alongside video calling, Skype also allows you to voice call and instant message people on your friends list. The messenger service works in a similar way to the Facebook messenger.
WhatsApp is the social media platform that has seemingly brought text messaging to an end. On WhatsApp, you can message, video call and voice call friends and family members who are already contacts on your phone’s contact book.
This platform uses your mobile phone internet data or Wi-Fi to work, rather than your text and minutes allowance. It is this function which initially made WhatsApp so popular, as you could ring and message people whilst you were away on holiday. There was no need to worry about the overseas charges.
Using WhatsApp you can take part in private conversions or you can create a group chat with you and your loved ones. In these conversations, you can also send photographs, videos and voice recordings.
A sneaky feature of WhatsApp is that you can see when the person you’re speaking to has read your message. Two blue ticks will indicate that your friend or a family member has seen your message. so if your grandchildren don’t reply and there is a blue tick you can tell them off!! WhatsApp also says when somebody is online or offline, which is useful if you’re waiting for a response.
WhatsApp has been hugely successful and makes instant messaging even faster than it was using text messaging. This app can be downloaded on your mobile phone or tablet device.
Personal Alarm Information
Having a personal alarm in your home provides you with somebody to help should you have a fall or feel unwell. This means that you can enjoy the features of social media, with the knowledge that you can call for help if something bad happens.