Tweet, Post and Like: Social Media May Brighten Your DayPosted by Medicare Made Clear
This year, for the first time, over half of adults age 65 and older are online. In addition, over one-third of these older adult internet users use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. These findings are reported in “Older Adults and Internet Use,” a June 2012 Pew Research Center Internet Project report.
Older adults may be attracted to social media for a variety of reasons. The obvious one is to stay in touch with family and friends. Some may use it to reconnect with people from their past. Others may seek information and support for a chronic condition, another medical issue, or how to live a healthy life. Additional activity may include professional networking, continuing education and civic or political participation.
Whatever the reason for getting online in the first place, social media may be an uplifting activity for many older adults. A study started in 2009 and led by Shelia Cotten, PhD, a sociologist at the University of Alabama, shows that internet and social media users over the age of 50 may reduce their chances of suffering from depression by one-third compared to those who do not participate in social media. The full study results will be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
Social media may help to bridge generational gaps as well, according to the Pew report. It often brings teens, “tweens,” parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors together in a way that few other venues can. This regular sharing can provide a valuable connection between faraway family and friends.
Think you may want to give social media a try? Here’s a quick run-down of some of the more popular sites.
Facebook: A free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues.
Pinterest: A social website for sharing images found online. Clicking the image takes you to the source. For example, if you click on an image of chocolate cupcakes you might go to a site that gives the recipe.
Twitter: A free social networking blogging service that allows registered members to broadcast short posts called tweets. As a Twitter member, you can post your own tweets, you can follow other members and read their tweets or you can follow tweets on topics you select.
LinkedIn: A free social networking site for the business community. Registered members can establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally.
Skype: An internet phone service provider that offers free calling among subscribers and low-cost calling from subscribers to non-subscribers.
While social media sites may make it easy to re-connect, stay in touch, and even do business, it’s wise to take precautions. Here are some tips from USA.gov that may help you use social media safely and protect your privacy:
Make your contact information private.
Limit who can search for your profile on Internet search engines.
Manage who can view your images; untag photos if necessary.
Create separate lists to manage who can see information you’ve posted.
Be careful about who can see your status updates.
Refrain from telling people where you are at any specific time.
Be cautious about arranging meetings in person with online acquaintances.
For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.
Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.
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