How and why senior people use Facebook

Senior people and facebook

For many of us, Facebook has become a daily communication tool. We can share opinions via many ways and expend our social experiences.

Because Facebook has a low age limit (anyone is 13 years old or older can join), the dominant users have become adolescents and young adults.

However, recent research shows that the number of middle-aged and elderly users is going up very rapidly.

This is an interesting phenomenon that relates to healthy aging.

Currently, the global life expectancy increases and people live longer than before. Senior citizens might face more social isolation because generally they are less familiar with the fast-developed technology than young people.

Social media sites like Facebook may help them maintain relationship with others and improve mental health.

Thus, understanding why senior people use Facebook and what they do there is important.

In a study newly published in Computers in Human Behavior, researchers investigated how senior users interact with others on Facebook.

They conducted an online survey of 352 senior citizens (aged at least 60 years) who had a Facebook account.

Researchers focused on three questions, including the primary motivations of using the website, how different motivations determine the use of techniques on the website, and the main activities senior users do on the website.

Researchers found that on average senior users visit Facebook twice a day and spend half an hour there.

Each user has about 87 Facebook friends, 16 family members on Facebook, and 13 close friends on Facebook.

They use Facebook for four reasons: social bonding, such as keeping in touch with old friends and family members; social bridging, such as join groups and organize events; curiosity, such as feeling interested in the website and news in social networks; and responding to family member requests.

They mainly spend time in messaging, including posting on others’ walls and chatting with others.

Researchers suggest that Facebook is a useful tool to help senior people connect with family members and friends, and its technology can provide gratifications they seek and value.

For senior users, Facebook might be equivalent to talking or texting on the phone to interact with other people.

Future work can focus on how users’ health and psychological traits influence their Facebook use, and the comparison between senior users and young users.

Citation: Jung EH, Sundar SS. (2016). Senior citizens on Facebook: How do they interact and why? Computers in Human Behavior, 61: 27-35.  doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.02.080
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