I have been told that social media isn’t for old folks. So any programme that targets senior citizens, shouldn’t use social media – but should only use the traditional media, i.e. brochures, pamphlets, tv commercials.
Well, I disagree. While the senior citizens may not be savvy in using social media, their children and grandchildren are. Senior citizens can benefit from reverse mentoring and pick up the required social media skills from their younger relatives. And, by doing so, the senior citizens have opportunity to connect and bond with their family members.
Using “Live Well, Age Well” programme as a case study, I’ll describe how social media can benefit programmes targeting the senior citizens.
According to the Council for Third Age (C3A), Live Well, Age Well means wellness in six dimensions: intellectual, physical, social, emotional, vocational, and spiritual. The breadth of Live Well, Age Well programmes necessitates cultivating strong communities of interest and organising engaging events like Active Ageing Carnival.
Using social media, C3A can strengthen these communities, can enrich the senior citizens’ experience and can provide better engagement and motivation in its programmes.
The rising trend of social media usage among American senior citizens, gives reason to believe that more Singaporean senior citizens are using social media. Like USA, Singapore has high internet penetration rate. Social media provides a new opportunity for C3A, to motivate and engage Singaporean senior citizens.
Getting the senior citizens to learn social media can be challenging. However, this challenge is also an opportunity to improve the senior citizens’ intellectual wellness, since they need to learn a new skill, i.e. social media skill. Furthermore, social media can boost motivation and engagement level in C3A’s Live well, Age well programmes, because:
1. Social media connects the seniors’ activity with that of their family and friends.
The seniors’ participation in C3A programmes becomes visible to their family and friends. When their family and friends “follow” their activities, the seniors become more engaged and motivated to participate in the programmes. In addition, the seniors can keep track of their family and friends’ life and vice-versa – which means, social media can boost the seniors’ social wellness.
2. Social media captures stories and promotes knowledge sharing.
Senior citizens love to tell stories and to share knowledge about their passion or life experience. Social media is the perfect medium to capture these stories / knowledge and to distribute them in the seniors’ social network (family and friends). This provides a new channel for the senior citizen to express their feelings and thoughts – which can boost their emotional wellness, as well as their vocational wellness.
3. Social media provides space for conversation and community-building.
In Social Media, the senior citizens can converse and connect with like-minded peers, whenever it is convenient for them to do so. This extends the peer-support network, so that the seniors can continue to encourage each other through online space. Providing an online space to converse, connect and cultivate communities of interest, could translate to a better spiritual, physical, and vocational wellness.
In short, social media can be used to supplement the C3A’s Live well, Age well programmes so that the senior citizens have higher motivation and engagement. Through social media, they can receive morale support from their family and friends, can capture stories and share knowledge, and can participate online in community of interest discussion.
I hope C3A can seriously consider social media as an additional means to get involvement from the senior citizens’ family members. Thoughts?