It’s no secret that social media has been heavily integrated into our daily lives. Its impact spans across generations. As part of the millennial generation, which a variety of estimates place anywhere between 1978 and 2004, I grew up surrounded by technology and various forms of digital media. Therefore, social media is something I have easily integrated into my life since an early age.
For some previous generations, like the baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), social media can present technological challenges. While the social media adoption rates by this generation are rising, those rates are nowhere near those exhibited by the millennial generation. With a little information and assistance, the baby boomer generation can easily embrace social media to enjoy a variety of benefits. Here are a few ways that baby boomers can benefit.
Keeping in touch
Social media is a way for users to connect with family and friends, no matter how far away they live. On platforms like Facebook and Instagram, users can write about their lives and upload pictures to share with the people to whom they are connected. These tools make it easier for people to keep up with what other people are doing in their lives, whether it is a family event or a vacation that someone went on.
Connecting through social media differs from connection through email in that users are not just writing to one person at a time, or to a small distribution list of contacts. When a user uploads content to their profile, it is instantly accessible for viewing by any of the people they have allowed to see their profile. Additionally, people can view it at their own convenience, so it’s not as demanding as a phone call.
Stay active in your community
Another way that baby boomers can benefit from using social media is its ability to connect people with other like-minded individuals within their community. Users can find out about events and activities that are happening in their town and become more involved. Baby boomers can use social media in this respect if they are looking to make new friends or join an organization or club.
Stay current on news and events
Many people now use social media as a way to stay more informed and up to date on news topics. Instead of just watching the regular news channels at home, users can access news stories through Facebook and mobile apps.
Twitter is a great source for news. It is essentially a microblog that blasts out news headlines. Users can scroll through posts and click on links to articles that pique their interests. Being able to access this news at any time of day, from any location, can help keep baby boomers on top of breaking news in their community and issues that concern them across the world.
Despite all of these positive features of social media use, there are many common concerns that keep some members of this generation from exploring the benefits of social media. These concerns create a level of hesitancy among members of the baby boomer community.
What creates hesitancy?
Personal information being so accessible online can turn people away from social media. Stories of security snafus by some of the leading social media networks give rise to cautious anxiety from baby boomers who consider joining. In a recent article, Kathleen Gossman discusses some examples of why social media is seen in a negative light, including the consequences of posting a personal opinion online that could get you in trouble at work. However, if they are smart about what they put online, and get some assistance with managing their privacy settings, the baby boomers may continue to step forward and brave the world of social media.
With so many social media channels readily available and open for scrutiny, there has been a lot of research showing patterns of certain age groups’ social media tendencies. According to a study by SocialTimes, 49% of online seniors have a Facebook account, while only 18% of Twitter users are over fifty years old. Results like these show that older generations have shown they enjoy using Facebook more than Twitter and potentially other channels such as Instagram. In an article from the Pew Research Center, there is also evidence that shows how older generations are much less likely to use Twitter as a social media tool.
As noted here, there are constantly new social media channels emerging. Social media is designed to create a fun, interactive environment that keeps users better connected with family and friends, and that’s something baby boomers really care about. I’d love to read your comments or questions in the area below.
Blair Burke – Content Creator