50 Times Old People Used Social Media And Provided The Internet With These Gems
The internet is a confusing place. While we "tech-savvy kids" can’t imagine our lives without it, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the constant changes online. And when it comes to people from the older generation, no wonder they feel a little out of their element when posting online. Except, of course, in instances when your grandma and grandpa simply must find the perfect rose-filled picture to wish you a happy birthday.
But hey, seniors try their best, and we love them for that! Especially when their efforts result in adorable situations when they get tripped up by text lingo, confuse a Google search with a Facebook post, and type out hilarious comments that leave us scratching our heads… and completely in stitches.
In fact, there’s something so wholesome about elderly people navigating the complex universe of the digital world that an entire Twitter account called 'Old People Online' is dedicated to their pearls of wisdom. Or, as the creators of the page describe, it's just "old people doing old people things on the internet." Below, we wrapped up some funny and charming examples from the page for you to enjoy. So continue scrolling to check them out, and don't miss the chat we had about seniors and modern tech with Deborah S. Bowen, Ph.D.
The scenario of seniors fiddling with technology that leaves them completely bamboozled is a well-worn stereotype, but when they try to participate in the world of social media — it's an adorable source of entertainment. Of course, there are many reasons why they might be having a hard time with this. Some elders are less likely to absorb new knowledge since they never encountered digital tech while growing up, and others struggle with touch screens due to dry hand skin or other health conditions.
Moreover, older adults are at a digital disadvantage from the start: 18% of UK adults aged 65+ do not have home internet access, and 25% of older US citizens do not consider themselves internet users.
Seniors’ inability to cope with modern technologies is basically an urban legend, and there are many widespread myths that elderly people are technologically illiterate or dislike the newest devices. So in a bid to separate fact from fiction, we reached out to Deborah S. Bowen, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of PR Instruction at the University of South Florida.
"'Technology' is such a broad term, and we’ve somehow come to think of it as only relating to contemporaneous devices and discoveries," Bowen told Bored Panda in an email. "But 'technology' is contextually delineated: the light bulb, for example, was clearly a piece of new technology at the time of its introduction."
The professor pointed out that everyone encounters new technology as they move through life, and it’s time to "gently push back on the idea that our seniors are somehow intellectually hobbled by age."
"While some aspects of what we’re calling 'technology' might be overwhelming to a senior, they might also be overwhelming to someone who has never been exposed to devices and discoveries," she explained. "With time and practice, however, technology can become useful and intuitive to all of its users."
Although certain aspects of the tech world make it a challenging terrain for elders to navigate. In fact, surfing online without arming themselves with knowledge can even become dangerous.
"Living here in Florida, where a good number of residents are senior citizens, I often hear stories of successful scams against the elderly," Bowen noted. "Studies show that, as we age, physical changes occur in the brain that can actually make us more susceptible to financial scams."
Professor Bowen is referring to "age-associated financial vulnerability," a term coined by physicians at Weill-Cornell Medicine in New York. They have discovered that as the brain ages, the changes may affect its ability to detect fraud and evaluate the risks. "“We are learning that there are changes in the aging brain, even in the absence of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative illnesses, that may render older adults vulnerable to financial exploitation," physician Mark Lachs told Marketplace.
Even though people of all ages are a target in the con artists' eyes, it’s clear that they have zoned in on older people’s susceptibility and use a variety of online platforms to execute their scams, Bowen argued. "It is important to make sure that any seniors in your lives are aware of the potential for Internet crime, and that they are vetting any correspondence that raises red flags."
According to data, elders are also extremely vulnerable to phishing scams, "and there is a body of evidence that suggests that seniors are the largest population of online gamblers due to time, some disposable income and the thrill of the game."
"It seems that seniors, by virtue of their age, can be both passively and 'actively' engaging in online behaviors that put them at risk, but that can be argued for any demographic group that uses the Internet," Bowen told us.
At the end of the day, everyone should be responsible for teaching their beloved seniors the dangers of the digital world. And, of course, we should all strive to be more accepting of seniors hopping online and trying to decipher the uncharted territory of social media. After all, this could be any of us 30 years from now.
Bowen agrees with this line of thinking. "Social media is absolutely the least predictable 'space' online. From platform to platform, rules, features and even ownerships can change, quite literally, overnight."
"It’s up to every user of every platform to be dialed in to each set of terms of service so each user knows what rights and responsibilities they have (or are losing!)," the professor added. "If a user of any age is having difficulty understanding anything about a specific platform, they should be encouraged to find online or in-person resources that can be of help."
But some seniors may also be reluctant to learn to use technology because of reduced mobility and reactivity. In fact, a study conducted by Pew Research Center showed that 23% of elderly people in the US have a "physical or health condition that makes reading difficult or challenging." Moreover, 29% reported they suffer from a "disability, handicap, or chronic disease that prevents them from fully participating in many common daily activities."
The same study revealed that the majority of participants expressed worries about learning how to use digital tools. Only 18% said they were comfortable with learning this themselves while 77% noted that they would rely on someone else to assist them.
"Patience is rewarded, and that reward can come in the form of incredible stories. As you teach your senior loved ones about the Internet, let them teach you about the way in which they grocery shopped, or washed clothes, or what they learned in school. It’s well worth the drain on your battery – and might be just the kind of recharge you need," Bowen concluded.