ideas, innovations and apps for social work in the age of smartphones and social media
Social Media Use of Older Adults: A Mini-Review
Gerontology (DOI: 10.1159/000346818)
Background: Maintaining social relationshipshas been defined as a core element of aging well. With a considerable amount of older adults living alone, social media provides the possibility to engage in meaningful social contact, e.g. by joining online social networks and online discussion forums.
Objective: The review encompasses current knowledge of prerequisites in social media use of older adults such as functional capacity, information and communications technology-related knowledge, and favorable attitudes towards social media. Then, the potential of social media use for clinical practice and possible negative consequences are outlined.
Method: Literature on social media use from a gerontological perspective was reviewed in July and August 2012.
Results: Online communities are suitable for providing and receiving social support when confronted with a difficult life situation, regardless of geographical location or time. From a practitioner’s perspective, social media can be used to advance health-related knowledge such as information on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of specific conditions and disorders. Further positive consequences have been shown to be overcoming loneliness, relieving stress, and raising feelings of control and self-efficacy. Possible negative consequences could be misuse of personal data as well as the distribution and uncritical adoption of potentially harmful information via online communities.
Discussion: The potential of social media in clinical practice is reflected in a wide range of intervention possibilities for older adults. However, with the rise of social media, new threats emerge for older adults as well.