11 Reasons Why Seniors Should Care About Social Media

Written By: Guest Contributor - Mar• 05•12

Senior citizens are the fastest growing demographic on Facebook, and this doesn’t surprise me. Though I’m not a senior, I personally use social media tools for business, but also to keep up with past and present friends as well as my family. For seniors, using Facebook, has enabled them to get in touch with long lost friends and relatives, see pictures of grandchildren, and learn more about the brands and causes that mean something to them. But there’s more to social media than Facebook and more to senior citizen use than a few family pictures.

I think there’s this myth that anyone over 50 is technically inept, but I don’t believe this is true. Perhaps many seniors might not be as technically savvy as the younger generation but I don’t think all of them are clueless when it comes to laptops and gadgets. Indeed, my own mother who retired at 70 ,designed online courses for accountants and telecommuted for several years. She certainly had her geeky moments, or she wouldn’t have been able to compete with the younger co-workers. When my large family began keeping in touch via a private online family forum, my mother embraced the social network immediately. She also uses Skype to keep in touch with her kids and is thinking about looking into Facebook.

Behold some of the benefits of social media for senior citizens:

1. Keep in touch

Social media is a remarkable tool for keeping in touch, especially for seniors who keep in touch with kids, grandkids, and sometimes even great grandkids, but it’s more than just family. Seniors are finding their college roommates, best friends from “the block” and elementary school crushes. The social networks enable us to view videos, read blog posts, share pictures and have conversations with people who we thought we’d never see again. Grandparents are friends with college-aged grandkids and keeping up with their accomplishments. To say social media has revolutionized the way families connect is an understatement.

2. Research

Seniors use social media tools to learn more about topics that interest them. In some cases it can lead them to cultivate hobbies and business ideas, and in other cases, such as with all the inaccurate health information available, it can be a confusing mix of resources. However, the Internet is enabling the over 50 crowd to learn more about new products, work on their genecology, and learn something new.

3. Ask questions

I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated navigating the phone menu to nowhere, so do so many others. By using the online tools available, many senior citizens can reach out via Twitter, Facebook, videos, blogs and live chats. Being able to talk to representatives and have all their questions answered, without being intimidated by voices, attitudes and a phone menu that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere, gives folks more confidence in a product.

4. Entertainment

Senior citizens can watch old television shows and movies, as well as find videos from “back in the day.” They can read ebooks, articles and blog posts, find song lyrics and find out what their favorite entertainers are up to. They can play games, either by themselves or with family and friends. Shut ins or those who can’t get out and around as well as they used to no longer have to feel lonely when they’re home alone.

5. Start a new business

Being online allows folks of all ages to start a new business. Perhaps they can sell crafts or give coaching advice. Or maybe they want to get into freelance writing or some sort of consulting. Many senior citizens would love to work but companies don’t want to hire them as they feel they’re “too old.” With social media and so many online productivity and networking tools, senior citizens no longer have to be forced into retirement.

6. Grow an existing business

Seniors who are still in business need to keep up with new programs and technologies. Social media enables them to stay in the game and compete with younger businesses. Use social media tools to connect and share. Answer questions, promote events and sales and more.

7. Learn

Just because one is retired or out of school doesn’t necessarily mean one wants to stop learning. Seniors are now taking courses online and reading online books, posts, articles and more to keep their minds active. Because seniors are now better able to keep up with emerging technologies, they don’t have to be considered “old and out of touch” and can hold their own in a conversation.

8. Share

Senior citizens aren’t merely people who are older than us. They’re also people who have been in the trenches. They have amazing stories and brilliant ideas. Through social media they can share all that good stuff with others. Seniors can blog about how life was when they were growing up or how things have changed during their lifetime. They network online and offer advices and mentoring to younger people and students and they can start Facebook pages to talk to others their age.

9. Meet others

The social networks allow us to meet others, for both business and pleasure. (No, not that kind of pleasure, I’m not talking Craigslist.) From online meetings seniors can plan offline meetups and networking events with like minded people and people their age.

10. Find work

65 is no longer the age of retirement for active seniors. Many would like to continue working, if not full time with an established business, they can also consult and freelance. Various networks enable them to find opportunities, post online resumes and view and apply for job listings.

11. Take advantage of sales and online opportunities

By following their favorite businesses and brands, seniors can save money by taking advantage of promotional opportunities. Many times freebies and discounts are only available via a FAcebook page or for Twitter followers.

What are some of the ways you see seniors using social media? Also, if you’re a senior, please share your reasons and successes using social media and its many tools.

[Source: Kommein]

About the Author:

Deb Ng is the founder and former owner of the Freelance Writing Jobs network of blogs (sold to SplashPress Media in 2010), and Director of Community for the BlogWorld And New Media Expo. She has spoken at conferences and webinars such as BlogWorld, South by Southwest, Type A-Parent and others, and also the author of “Online Community Management for Dummies” and co-author of upcoming second edition “Social Media Marketing All in One for Dummies.” (Summer 2012)

 

Elderly Couple Become Viral Video Sensations – Webcam 101 for Seniors

Written By: Kim Hong - Mar• 02•12

An elderly couple from Oregon became viral video sensations after their granddaughter posted footage of the two struggling to learn how to use a webcam. The sweet, loving couple, Bruce and Esther Huffman, had no idea the webcam was on and recording. So for three minutes, they made silly faces at the camera while trying to navigate their new laptop, and luckily for us, it was all captured on video! Once the video was posted on YouTube, it spread like wildfire across the Internet, social media channels and news outlets, such as Good Morning America, The Early Show and Today Show.

11 Tips for Social Networking Safety

Written By: Guest Contributor - Feb• 24•12

Photo Credit: thanunkorn

Via Microsoft

Social networking websites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Windows Live Spaces are services people can use to connect with others to share information like photos, videos, and personal messages.

As the popularity of these social sites grows, so do the risks of using them. Hackers, spammers, virus writers, identity thieves, and other criminals follow the traffic.

Read these tips to help protect yourself when you use social networks.

  1. Use caution when you click links that you receive in messages from your friends on your social website. Treat links in messages on these sites as you would links in e-mail messages.
  2. Know what you’ve posted about yourself. A common way that hackers break into financial or other accounts is by clicking the “Forgot your password?” link on the account login page. To break into your account, they search for the answers to your security questions, such as your birthday, hometown, high school class, father’s middle name, on your social networking site. If the site allows, make up your own password questions, and don’t draw them from material anyone could find with a quick search.
  3. Don’t trust that a message really is from whom it says it’s from. Hackers can break into accounts and send messages that look like they’re from your friends, but aren’t. If you suspect that a message is fraudulent, use an alternate method to contact your friend to find out. This includes invitations to join new social networks.
  4. To avoid giving away e-mail addresses of your friends, do not allow social networking services to scan your e-mail address book. When you join a new social network, you might receive an offer to enter your e-mail address and password to find out if your contacts are on the network. The site might use this information to send e-mail messages to everyone in your contact list or even everyone you’ve ever sent an e-mail message to with that e-mail address. Social networking sites should explain that they’re going to do this, but some do not.
  5. Type the address of your social networking site directly into your browser or use your personal bookmarks. If you click a link to your site through e-mail or another website, you might be entering your account name and password into a fake site where your personal information could be stolen.
  6. Be selective about who you accept as a friend on a social network. Identity thieves might create fake profiles in order to get information from you.
  7. Choose your social network carefully. Evaluate the site that you plan to use and make sure you understand the privacy policy. Find out if the site monitors content that people post. You will be providing personal information to this website, so use the same criteria that you would to select a site where you enter your credit card.
  8. Assume that everything you put on a social networking site is permanent. Even if you can delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily print photos or text or save images and videos to a computer.
  9. Be careful about installing extras on your site. Many social networking sites allow you to download third-party applications that let you do more with your personal page. Criminals sometimes use these applications to steal your personal information. To download and use third-party applications safely, take the same safety precautions that you take with any other program or file you download from the Web.
  10. Think twice before you use social networking sites at work.
  11. Talk to your kids about social networking.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

What is Social Media?

Written By: Kim Hong - Jan• 31•12

You hear about social media just about everywhere you go – there’s no escaping it! And, believe it or not, it’s not just for kids anymore. Golden Girl Betty White re-launched her career using Facebook, Jerry Mathers, aka “The Beaver,” is tweeting about how to live a longer and healthier life (even with diabetes), and an elderly couple’s “Webcam 101″ video goes viral on YouTube, making them instant Internet sensations.

The numbers don’t lie. According to Pew Internet & American Life Project, social media use among Internet users ages 50 and older has nearly doubled — from 22% to 42% over the past year. Half (47%) of Internet users ages 50-64 and 26% users age 65 and older now use social media.

That’s all nice and dandy, but what exactly is social media?

Social media consists of online tools and websites that encourage people to interact with companies, brands, and people (including celebrities and journalists) and form communities by creating, publishing, and sharing content. Social media is a two-way communication stream, whereas with traditional media, messaging is published through a one-way communication stream to the masses, e.g. radio, television and newspaper.

Social media is fast changing and take on many different forms, including social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, MySpace), blogs and microblogs (e.g. Twitter), content communities (e.g. YouTube, Flickr), virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life), social gaming, podcasts, and wikis, to name a few.

To give you a general idea of the social media landscape, here are some basic terms to help you get started.

Blog: an online journal that is usually (but not always) written by one person about a particular topic. It is updated on a regular basis with entries that appear in reverse chronological order. Blogs typically contain comments by other readers and links to other sites. Twitter is a popular form of “microblogging,” which is a short form of a blog, limiting each message to 140 characters.

Podcast: a form of audio broadcasting that is available as a digital file (usually audio but sometimes video) that can be downloaded to a computer or portable device, such as an MP3 player or iPod. Podcasts usually contain talk back radio style content.

Social Networking Site: an online community that allows you to create a profile, add friends, share ideas and events, and communicate with other members. The most popular social networking site (and the most-visited website in the world), Facebook, allows you to reconnect and stay in touch with friends, family, classmates and colleagues. Eons is a social network designed for aging baby boomers and seniors. 

Social Gaming: online games that are played with other people and include interactive elements or content that can be shared online. Social games are played on social networking sites, game portals and websites. Players create profiles, chat, and share information with other players. Winster is a social gaming site that appeals mostly to older adults. The games are designed to encourage a positive social interaction and provide a sense of community with like-minded individuals who enjoy playing collaborative games, not competitive ones.

Virtual World: an online computer-simulated space that includes aspects of real life with fantasy elements. Typically, you can create a representation of yourself (an avatar) and socialize with other “residents” of this online world. A popular virtual world is Second Life, which is being used by non-profits and businesses to run discussions, virtual events and fundraising.

Video/Photo Sharing sites: a website that hosts user-generated videos or photos that is shared on the Web. YouTube is the most popular video-sharing site on the Web, and also the second most visited website in the world.

Wiki: a website developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any user to add and edit content. The most popular wiki is Wikipedia, a publicly-written, collaborative encyclopedia available online.

"Don't get overwhelmed. It's daunting, but not impossible - just ask for help if you need it," says Jerry Mathers.

This may all seem a little overwhelming at first, but don’t be discouraged. The best way to dip your toes into social media is by joining a community that best suits you or sounds the most interesting to you.

Since Internet users over the age of 50 are driving the growth of social media, companies and web designers are developing better computer technologies and websites that accommodate the specific needs of older Internet users.

Social media is not just a way to connect with grandkids, look at photos, and reconnect with old friends, but it’s also a way to exercise the mind, lift spirits and boost morale.

“Don’t get overwhelmed. It’s daunting, but not impossible – just ask for help if you need it. Just like you helped your kids ride a bike, they can help you learn how to communicate with the world,” advises Jerry Mathers, best known as the loveable Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver in the television sitcom series, Leave It to Beaver.

If your kids aren’t around to help, there are plenty of organizations, like SeniorNet, and communities dedicated to providing older adults with computer education and social media classes. It’s just a hop, skip and click away!