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An older person's guide to the different social media sites

8th July 2020

Social media sites are used by people of all ages – both young and old. For older adults, these platforms are a great way to stay connected with friends and family members.

Social media has become a healthy outlet for older adults and word of its benefits has spread meaning people from all over the world are now using different sites. The gateway that social media sites provide to the outside world is especially beneficial to those with mobility problems who are homebound and need aids such as walk in baths and stairlifts.

There are so many different social media sites these days that it can be hard to keep up, but this guide looks at the different sites that older people can use and the types of groups and features that can be found on them:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • TikTok

Facebook

How to sign up: Click here and fill out the required fields with your “First Name”, “Email Address”, or “Phone Number” and choose a password.

Facebook is the largest social networking site in the world and one of the most widely used. It is essentially a long and detailed version of your life that allows you to keep track of loved ones that you don’t often see, post updates and photographs about what you are doing and read up on current events.

Older people can use Facebook to keep up-to-date with their grandchildren or children and read their status updates and scroll through their photographs to see what is going on in their daily lives.

Heather Cowper, the travel blogger and publisher at Heatheronhertravels.com, says a lot of her readers are on Facebook: “My readers at Heatheronhertravels.com tend to be independent travellers in their 50s and above and I find that most of them follow my travels on Facebook and Instagram as well as my blog.

“I think of Facebook as the ‘all-rounder’ of social media platforms since it's been around for a while and almost everyone of any age has an account. It's a good one for staying connected with friends and family as well as being a platform that encompasses video, photos and words. It's also a good platform to connect with others with similar interests by joining groups.”

With Facebook, there is a search bar to make it easier to look for friends that are on the site, a private messenger tool that you can send direct messages to friends or family and you can add a profile photograph and a cover photo which will appear on your personal profile.

Some popular Facebook pages and groups for older adults are:

Instagram

How to sign up: On a computer, you need to head to instagram.com and click sign-up. The enter your email address, create a username and password or click Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.

Instagram is a free photo and video sharing social media site that can be used on your desktop computer, tablet or Apple, Android and Windows mobile phone. People can upload photos and videos and share them with their followers or a select group of friends.

Users can also view, comment or like posts shared by friends and family and anyone over the age of 13 can create an account by registering.

Heather Cowper, who is also the co-founder of Travelator Media, said Instagram is her favourite social media site: “Instagram is my favourite as I love the visual and creative nature of the platform, especially to find inspiring travel destinations that you might want to visit in the future.”

If you are using Instagram for the first time you will be asked to find other people to follow and while you don’t have to do this right away, it is a good idea to follow at least a few people to begin with. You can allow Instagram to search your contacts or log in to Facebook and the site will tell you if any of your friends or family are already on Instagram. To see what friends and family members are posting on their accounts you just need to access your feed and on there you can see their latest posts.

To take a photo and share it from your phone you can go onto Instagram, click on the camera icon and take the photo. Once you have taken it, you can add filters to make it brighter or more artistic. It is worth trying a few out to see which one is best. Once you are satisfied with your photo you can click next and add a caption or tag friends in the photo and then click share so your followers can see it.

Some popular Instagram accounts for older adults are:

Twitter

How to sign up: Open Twitter on your computer and type your phone number or email address in the first box and then pick a password you want to use in the second box. Then you need to tap the ‘Get Started’ button and type in your full name before you are taken to a page where you can tailor Twitter to your interests, but you can uncheck this if you are not interested. Finally, click the ‘sign up’ button when you are finished and choose a username that will appear on your Twitter profile.

Twitter is a shorter version of Facebook as there is a character limit to what you can post so ‘tweets’ as they are called are a shorter and often wittier version of communication. Tweets have a maximum of 140 characters and a character is a letter, space, punctuation mark or number.

Like other social media sites, Twitter is a great way to stay connected with your friends and family as well as a good way to keep up with the latest news in your area and around the world.

If you are using Twitter for the first time, then finding your way around is easy as there is a “newsfeed” page that shows the tweets of all your friends (known as followers in the world of Twitter). Along the top of Twitter, you will see there are other icons next to the newsfeed page and these include ‘Moments’ and this is an easy way to catch up on the major news from around the world. Other icons along the top to be aware of are the ‘Notifications’ icon which is where you can see unseen comments on your tweet or retweets, the ‘Messages’ icon that is a place you can send a private message to someone and the ‘Tweet’ button along the toolbar is where you can send tweets about what you are up to.

Some popular Twitter accounts for older adults are:

YouTube

How to sign up: To sign in to YouTube, you'll need to create a Google Account. Once that has been set-up you need to head to the YouTube website, click sign in and then click on more options and create an account.

Older people can really benefit from using YouTube or setting up a channel as it provides you with an opportunity to stave off loneliness through connecting with other YouTubers and it keeps the brain sharp by learning a host of new digital skills.

YouTube is a place where you can post or watch quality videos. From travel to comedy, there are videos covering a range of topics and much like Facebook you can make friends with others in your field and can send friend requests.

Bryony Lockhart, the Brand and Content Manager for Look Fabulous Forever highly recommends older people use YouTube.

She said: “There is a wealth of content on YouTube - literally any subject you're searching for information about, you'll find a video about it on YouTube. Our founder, Tricia Cusden's YouTube channel is packed with makeup advice for older women - we've got tutorials about nearly every makeup dilemma you could think of from how to disguise hooded eyes to creating natural-looking eyebrows even when your own are very sparse.

“Look Fabulous Forever wouldn't exist without social media - Facebook and YouTube, in particular, have both been really important in getting the word out there about the business. I think it helps older people stay connected both in terms of what's going on in the wider world but also with their own families.

“There are obviously downsides, but for our older demographic, in particular, there are also huge positives which we would encourage older people to embrace.”

Some popular YouTube channels for older adults are:

Pinterest

How to sign up: Pinterest is easy to sign-up to as you just need to enter your email, create a password and tell them your age. If you have a Facebook or Google account you can use those details to log in.

Pinterest is a little different from other social media sites with the likes of Facebook and Twitter being primarily used for communicating and keeping in touch with people, Pinterest is more visual-based.

People use the social media site to get ideas, find recipes to see funny content and it is essentially your own digital magazine.

In Pinterest, your newsfeed, which is the big “P” icon that appears when you are logged in, is where all the ideas from interests you follow and the ideas your friends and family save will appear. You can search for a range of topics on Pinterest and you can even direct message other users. The social media site has been a way for businesses to show off their latest products and this has proven popular with shoppers who are looking to browse before they buy.

Some popular Pinterest accounts for older adults are:

TikTok

How to sign up: To sign-up to TikTok you need to click here and log in with a Google or Facebook account or use a phone number or email address.

The TikTok app has increased in popularity recently with teenagers and young people being the primary users of the app.

TikTok is essentially a social network where people can make short videos or just watch everyone else’s. The videos are 15 seconds long, but clips can be put together to make stories of up to 60 seconds. Users can also upload longer videos that are not recorded within the app.

Whilst lip syncs were originally what the app become famed for, it is now known for dancing, gymnastics, comedy and even cheerleading.

TikTok is great for older people to download if you have family and friends on it as you can keep up with what your grandchildren are doing and see just how creative they are.

Some popular TikTok accounts for older adults are:

Social media has become a huge part of people’s lives with it being especially beneficial to older people who struggle with their mobility and are not able to get out much. While you can use a stair lift or a mobility scooter to get around, these social media sites are a great way to keep in contact with friends and family.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.