Why Social Media is Becoming an Elderly Addiction

Online Oldies Unite! Image: Alan Levine / CC BY-SA

Online Oldies Unite!
Image: Alan Levine / CC BY-SA

Honestly, I think the better title is “How the Internet and My Parents Teamed Up to Almost Ruin my Life.” That’s more accurate, really.

It all started with an innocent mobile phone. A smartphone that as my father said, made you feel “anything but smart.”

I really can’t blame him, though. I mean, even the New York Daily News agree. Sure, over 66% of the 50-64 age bracket are on Facebook. 43% of the over 65, too.

But they do not know what they’re doing.

They think LOL means “lots of love.” WTF is suddenly “Where’s the fish?” and BTW could mean “bring the wheelchair.”

Anyway. So, mother got herself a smartphone and realized she can sign up to Facebook. And added everyone, everyone, in the family. She then proceeded to message my sisters on their Facebook walls. Personal messages that everyone can see!

And then my father decided to join in on the action.

Except, dad knew less than mom did. So mom took it upon herself to teach dad. But when you have one clueless person teaching another more clueless person, it’s not bound to end up well.

So my sisters and I spent 2 weeks listening to them bickering. We began to dread phone calls because it’s likely one of them complaining about the other.

It was a nightmare. (I will admit to thinking about “unfriending” them both. I didn’t, okay? So don’t hate.)

The Online Geriatric

Just how many of the elderly are online? And why?

Here’s a quick look at the 2012 numbers, according to Pew. The survey was done on seniors 65 years old and up.

  • 18% are online on Facebook on any typical day
  • 86% use email. 48% do so on a typical day
  • 69% own a mobile phone

Research showed that in the past year, the seniors on online social networking doubled from 22% to 42%. That’s 27 million people 55 and older spending time online.

And while Facebook always appears on the list, it isn’t the only site oldies are spending time on. The top four sites are actually:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo
  • YouTube

There’s so many of them online that they’re the reason internet subscriptions are also going up.

And what do they do online?

It’s the Place to Be!

If you ask my mother, she’s online because she wants to stay updated with her kids. If you ask my dad, he’s online because my mom is. LOL. (Laugh out loud, dear old readers! NOT lots of love.)

But really, if you ask seniors, reconnecting with old friends and loved ones is the topmost reason for being online. Over half of my mom’s Facebook friends are high school classmates.

Some go online to find people with common interests. Like my good friend, Tonee’s mom.

She’s a BIG fan of the Everly Brothers. Her sole reason for being on Facebook? She wanted to be part of a community that loves them as much as she does. The way she tells it, when she was younger, “the only way I can get close to Phil Everly is by buying a poster and sticking it on my bedroom wall.” Now? She gets regular updates on the goings on in their lives from other fans.

She’s racking up the internet bill, too. Drives Tonee crazy, but hey, that’s a story for another day.

Some are online to promote businesses. More and more retirees are opting to have part-time, even full-time online jobs to augment their incomes. They aren’t racking up the cash as they used to. And the extra moolah is always welcome.

So yeah. Don’t expect the geriatric online revolution to stop anytime soon.

You’d likely be hearing more OMG’s (Oh, My Grandchildren… Ouch, My groin?).

Me?FYI, GTG. TTYL.

That would be “For your information, gotta go. Talk to you later.” NOT “For your indigestion, gotta groan. Talk to you louder.”

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