Do you remember the days when mothers and fathers told their teenagers to “get off Facebook!”? Possibly your own parents encouraged you to get off social media and engage in real life.
Now, many of those same parents are at home alone, isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic. And Facebook might just be one of the best ways they can stay in touch with friends and family.
Many baby boomers have embraced the digital world, and many are on Facebook. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reported, in 2018, that seniors, age sixty-five and older were using Facebook a lot more than previously. In fact, Facebook usage among that age group rose from eighteen percent to thirty-two percent in the years before 2018.
The Perils of Facebook
Scrolling passively through Facebook posts is not the most mentally stimulating activity. Facebook, itself, has admitted that non-interactive use of the site can lead to worse self esteem and a worse sense of well being. The people in the most danger are those who simply scroll and hit a like or other reaction button.
One theory posits that seeing the good fortune of others in their posts can lead to unfavorable comparisons with one’s own successes. In other words, people tend to brag on Facebook, putting forward only their best faces. If a senior is not feeling similarly proud, his attitude can get worse from simply witnessing the gushy posts of friends and family.
Furthermore, Wired coined the word “doomscrolling” to describe the danger of going to one’s phone every two hours to read bad news. People whose Facebook feed mostly rants about politics and the coming apocalypse are also endangering their mental health.
The Key to Facebook Use For Seniors: Stay interactive
However, a more recent survey found that certain uses of Facebook can be downright good for seniors. The secret is to stay actively engaged with friends and family on the site. Specifically, seniors got improvements in mental health by:
- Posting photographs to Facebook. Reading about someone else’s neuroscientist granddaughter is a downer, but posting photos of your own rocket scientist descendants is a pick me up.
- Commenting on posts. The act of writing, even a phrase or sentence, can boost mental health and possibly cognitive function.
- Customizing their profiles. Research shows that seniors who devote some attention to fully fledging their Facebook profile and making it their own feel more “autonomous.” That’s a fancy way of saying they feel strong and independent.
So should you encourage your mother or father to use Facebook? If mom or dad spends a lot of time on Facebook, he or she might want to put down the phone or tablet more often. However, teaching your parent to upload photos to Facebook could actually be quite helpful. If you want to encourage the good benefits of Facebook, respond to your parent’s posts and comments and encourage such commenting.
If you have hired a senior aide, that person may be able to show your senior how to be more interactive on Facebook and avoid falling into scams that may occur on social media. If you have not hired a senior care provider, you may want to learn more about this service. Home care agencies send qualified senior care experts to your father or mother’s home. These professionals provide a wide range of services that improve social engagement and cognitive health.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Senior Care in Queens, NY please contact the caring staff at Prime Care, Inc. today. (212) 944-0244