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Embracing social media

Senior adults have tripled social media presence in last four years

Created date

December 23rd, 2013
man and woman with dog

Springs resident Joyce Kleinert signed up for a Facebook account in 2008, four years after then-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg developed the social media site.

“At the time, my husband Ken and I were volunteers with Mission America Placement Services (MAPS),” says Joyce. “MAPS volunteers travel all over the country to build churches,” says Joyce. “Facebook provided a way for us to keep in touch.”

Joyce also used the social networking site to keep up with her son and two grandsons in North Texas.

“It seemed like everyone was signing up for a Facebook account,” she says. “I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Changing lifestyle

Now, it seems Joyce was at the front of a swelling social media surge. A new survey by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project revealed those 65 and older have roughly tripled their presence on social networking sites in the last four years from 13% in 2009 to 43% in 2013.

“My interests have evolved since I first signed up for a Facebook account,” says Joyce. “Now I get most of my news from social media because I follow political figures who interest me. News travels fast these days, and I can often find out the latest developments faster through social media than I can by watching the news.”

In May 2012, Ken and Joyce stopped crisscrossing the country on volunteer assignments and settled down at Highland Springs, an Erickson Living community in North Dallas.

“Our home was in Tulsa, Okla.,” says Joyce. “But when we looked at retirement communities, we knew we wanted to be closer to our son.”

As it turns out, Ken and Joyce landed among friends who share their interest in social media and the ever-changing technology wave sweeping the news industry. More than one third of the community’s 570 residents turned out recently for a presentation about social media and the changing newsroom by WFAA anchor Gloria Campos.

“Gloria offered insight into how newsrooms are evolving and shared ways our residents can become fully engaged in this new era of communication,” says Community Resources Coordinator Barbara Blachly. “When she opened up the floor to questions, many residents asked how to use their smartphones to access this information.”

Technology on the go

Joyce says the portability of smart phones and tablets make them an easy choice when she’s on the go.

“We have a desktop computer, but I don’t use it much anymore,” she says. “I use my Kindle tablet to check email and social media when I’m in our apartment, and I use my Sprint Evo smartphone when I’m out and about.”

One of Joyce’s passions is animal rescue, particularly the adoption of senior dogs. Many of the posts running through her Facebook newsfeed have to do with animal rescue.

“Ken and I adopted our two Chihuahuas, Chico and Sweetie, when they were 10 and 12,” says Joyce. “They’ll be 14 and 16 this year, and they’re still enjoying life at Highland Springs.”

Sharing common interests

Beyond her local family and friends, Joyce has met people via social media who share her passion for animal rescue.

“I’ve made one Facebook friend in South Africa who visits the same sites I do and whose comments on dog stories I find interesting,” says Joyce. “It’s amazing how social media allows you to connect with people all over the world.”