Elderly being lonely is a well known phenomenon. Research shows that social media might just be the answer for this. The use of social media improved the cognitive capacity, the sense of self-competence and helped the mental health and physical well-being overall (Morris, 2014).
In England and Italy researchers gave 120 elderly training and special computers so that they would and could use social media like Skype and Facebook. They also had a control group to compare it with. It showed that the elderly felt less isolated because they could easily connect with friends and family trough Skype and Facebook. While in comparison the control group steadily declined in mental and physical health.
Thomas Morton, of the University of Exeter’s psychology department also mentions that people are social animals and that it is not surprising that people do better when they connect with others. There are many examples in the article of people who’s live changed after using social media. Examples like dying their hair and taking care of their physical appearance again, or joining friends at a campfire trough Skype. Also shown in the research is that Skype and e-mail is found to be more useful then Facebook by the elderly, over 75% liked Skype and e-mail.
This research shows that the health of elderly really can improve by the use of social media, and that the increase of elderly using it has increased a lot over the past decade. But there still is a lot of work to do, only 37% of the elderly used social media in 2013 and there will be a lot more elderly in the future, the idea Tony Watts has is to stimulate the use of tablets instead of computers, because tablets are a lot easier to use.
The benefits for elders are widely spread, like mentioned before they can connect with friends and family, but they can also meet new people with common interest (Pendykoski, 2013), on social networks you can meet people of the same age with the same interest and have interesting conversations or discussions.
Also they can learn stuff, with almost every bit of knowledge being available on the internet, elderly can search up everything they want and learn new things about topics they like, or search for things important for their health or financial side of live.
besides learning things, they can also share things, the elderly have probably experienced a lot in their lifetime and they can share their stories on social media. They can also help other people with their knowledge and connect with people this way.
Concluding, elders benefit a lot from using social media, they improve with mental and physical health. They can connect with other people and learn and share new information. And even though more elderly are using social media, others still need to be helped because as research has shown, it helps the elderly.
Morris, S (2014) Study finds social media use beneficial to overall health of elderly.
Pendykoski, R. (2013) Seniors Going Social: Benefits that Social Media Proffers to the Elderly.