Social networking used to be an activity primarily undertaken by teens and young adults. Not anymore, however, according to comScore.com. This marketing research company noted that 16.5 million adults aged 55 and older participate in social networking. This is no surprise, as social networking sites are the perfect places for Boomers and seniors to share their opinions, bond over common interests, follow up with family and re-connect with friends.
An added bonus for some is that these sites remove the frustration experienced by the hard of hearing or by those who have difficulties speaking clearly. Seniors who use the phone as their main source of communication will also love these sites. You can share photos and videos with others without having to arrange a face-to-face meeting, which can be difficult for some people to attend.
ElderGadget realizes that these sites may be a bit confusing if you’ve never tried online social networking before, especially because there are so many to choose from. That’s why we created this series, which will highlight the top social networking sites by category. We decided that the best way for you to get your feet wet is to get to know the most popular sites first.
The three sites listed below are the power players in the online networking realm. They have the most users and, therefore, are the sites most likely to be utilized by friends, acquaintances and family.
Don’t worry if these sites aren’t for you. There are so many social networking sites out there that use different platforms and target different groups that you’re bound to find one (or more) that piques your interest. Once you do we believe that you’ll find the possibilities for interaction, socializing and connectivity to be endless.
Facebook is currently the most popular social networking site. What started out as a website for the college crowd has evolved into a networking giant, with the 55-and-older demographic being the fastest growing.
Pros: The site is easy to use and navigate. A number of simple commands, such as “Edit My Profile” or “Create a Photo Album” ensure that even the most computer-unfriendly users will be able to create their Facebook pages successfully.
The search tab is also a great feature, as you can enter in any term, be it a person’s name, your alma mater or a hobby and Facebook will pull up the most relevant groups, people and fan pages that match this term. This allows you to easily connect to people you know, hobbies you enjoy and people you don’t know who also enjoy your hobbies.
You can grow your network seamlessly as well, as Facebook will recommend other users who you should consider “friending” based upon mutual friends or hobbies that you have in common.
Cons: While Facebook can be a great way to connect with old friends and relatives, don’t be surprised if your friend requests get denied by your grandchildren or other younger users. These groups value their online privacy, and many are resistant to giving older relatives access to their online conversations with their friends.
MySpace is credited for allowing the social networking platform to take off. It has slowed down in the past year, however, when it was overtaken by Facebook. In an attempt to compete with Facebook’s features, MySpace has gone a bit overboard on the options and settings, but if organization and numerous options are your things then MySpace is your networking site.
Pros: Lots of options. MySpace doesn’t just allow you to edit your profile or photo albums, but it has easy-to-find links for video, blog, group, friends and comment editing as well. If you’re worried about what might be said or posted on your site or if you use a lot of online tools, such as blogs, address books or calendars, then you’ll appreciate all that MySpace has to offer.
Cons: If you simply want to see others’ photos or leave messages from time to time on a relative’s page then the amount of bells and whistles MySpace provides upfront might not be for you.
Twitter is a micro-blogging site where users post messages of no more than 140 characters. The premise behind Twitter is that users take a little time every so often to answer the question “What are you doing?” For some, a little time may mean that they post, or “tweet,” what they’re up to once a week. For others, this means tweeting at every possible opportunity.
Pros: Twitter may be the ideal way to keep up on the lives of loved ones. In some ways it allows us to vicariously live through other people. Whether your grandson just made his high school football team or you want to know more about your favorite musician Twitter will let you peak into their lives by providing real-time updates about their actions.
Twitter is also the easiest of the three sites to use. Want to send a tweet to your followers (people who subscribe to your page)? Simply type in what you’re doing and hit enter. Want to know what the people you’re following are up to? Simply sign in.
Cons: It doesn’t give you a well-rounded view of someone’s life. In keeping with the Twitter tradition users’ profiles are short, limiting how much information you can ascertain about a particular individual.
If you’re hoping to find out what’s been going on with an old friend that you haven’t seen in 10 years you may want to befriend them on another social networking site or catch up via phone. It may be difficult to keep up with their lives without a little context.
Check back next week when we examine niche networking sites, as well as the best sites to connect with family.