Oldies Media Aware; The #oma Project


The main purpose for social media sites is to connect with others, share stuff, to have conversations. If you remove the fact that it’s online, this is something all people enjoy doing and seek out ways to do. Every day. People have networked for centuries, through clubs and organizations, as well as informal networks of family and friends.

The fact that we (society) have created an online platform to make connections for conversations happen is indicative of the society we live in. We put high walls up around our homes and then let people in via the laptop. This isn’t going to change too much in the forseable future as the current generation are enjoying this way of life. It will evolve certainly, however the excitement and engagement has been embraced. Facebook has made sure of that. Started at a University, the fastest growing population on the platform is the over 50’s group.

Growing old then, with access to all this online networking and sharing from behind our walls will be a curious thing.

Growing up and older with pen and ink brought a perspective to life that doesn’t involve anything electronic. But as our generations creep into the age of growing up with everything electronic, our own perspectives of old age will need to change too.

When my 80 year old mother said to me “Google It”, I was surprised. Surprised she knew what that meant. However, she was simply evolving and going with the flow, adapting and listening to the world around her. The same can be said for the oldies in her retirement village who pester her to buy a kindle. Mum would prefer books.

But what will happen when I’m 80?

Until now, the perspective has very much been that old people don’t get involved and don’t evolve into the next generation of things.

While this may be true currently, there has been a modern tendency to adapt to technology at a much faster rate. Is this normal, or new?

I believe the introduction of social media, and in particular, Facebook has encouraged this. Adoption rates over the past 10 years have significantly accelerated people’s understanding of computing technology and their adaption of it. This in part comes from its perceived usefulness.

Social media gives seniors, their family and carers an easy way to check in daily, creating peace of mind at both ends of the communication equation. The fact that the Facebook platform is relatively easy to manoeuvre for even the most novice of users supports this action.

The importance of feeling part of a community can not be overstated, particularly for seniors spending much of their time living isolated at home. It can be critical for those unable to get out of the house to be with others.

Social media provides the opportunity to have, and be a friend, to congregate without leaving the house, to never be alone even when you are the only one in the house.

It’s true, on the whole, social networks are still a young person’s and a woman’s game — 89 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds are members of sites like Facebook and 74 percent of all female internet adults are social media users. That said, the older generation is catching up. As we’ve said many time, the over 50’s are the fastest growing population on the social media platforms – and this could be because they started out as amused bystanders and are now involved participants.

And anyway, who wouldn’t want to check in on the grandkids?

The exploration of how we could leverage this is evolving.

Social media has opened up several new ways for communication and social interaction. It has brought new means for people to create and share information. Older people have huge amounts of valuable knowledge, experience and memories that they are willing to share.

My #oma project , or “Oldies Media Aware” will look at the use of social media now, and into the future. I’m excited to be taking this journey.

 

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