Imagine a place where you could reconnect with your high school sweetheart, the mentor that helped you believe in yourself, your former college roommate, the wild couple from Minneapolis you met on vacation in Cabo last year, and your distant 15-year-old granddaughter. This isn’t heaven, it’s called Facebook — and according to the American Psychological Association, it might even be good for you. Research is now showing social media strengthens cognitive health in seniors and lowers blood pressure in those that have frequent positive interactions on these sites.
However, a 2014 PEW research study shows that only 46 percent of plugged-in seniors are using social media. So, if you are in the hesitant other half, here are some tips to get you started.
With more than a billion users, Facebook is the way to stay connected to old friends, colleagues, and family members peppered across the planet. You can join interest groups, learn of sales at your favorite stores, and see videos and pictures of your distant loved ones. It’s also a great way to get involved in or organize for social causes in your community.
It can be addicting and a time-guzzler. At first you may be tempted to check it obsessively throughout the day to see if anyone “liked” the photo you were “tagged” in. You should be conscientious of your privacy settings and realize that any photo (or comment) you post is permanent and generally public knowledge — free for others to dissect and comment upon.
Facebook terms to know:
- Tag: to identify in a picture or refer to in a post by one’s name
- Poke: a meaningless gesture of annoyance; to get someone’s attention
- Follow: way to stay abreast of people you aren’t friends with (such as businesses or Willie Nelson)
Read about other social media sites to try in our summer issue.
– Megan M. Seckman