Making the most of social media for the over-50s

Health
09 February 2016
Social media is not just for the youth, it has a great deal to offer people who are looking to get back in touch with old friends and keep up to date with the latest local events.

Social media is a cornerstone of the internet for many people today, as it is a great way to share information with your friends, family and loved ones, as well as a means of reaching out to new people. 

Any perception that it is only for the youngest college-age children should be cast aside, as it is something that is hugely varied and has something to offer anyone. 

Indeed, almost one in five Twitter users are over 50 - and the number of people in this age bracket who are getting online is constantly rising. 

It is all about offering a sense of staying connected and being in touch with others. It is for this reason that social media registrations rocketed with the popularity of smartphones, as these devices make it possible to connect almost anywhere in the world. 

Anyone feeling uncertain about it will find it is not too difficult to get to grips with by simply asking someone to show you the ropes if they are already familiar with whichever social network you choose to join. 

There are hundreds of websites to choose from - and the vast majority are free to use, generating revenue for themselves through fairly unintrusive adverts that display alongside posts from your friends. 

With this in mind, we've come up with brief introductions to two of the biggest social networks to outline what each of them offer and how they are different to one another. 

Facebook

Facebook is arguably the most family-friendly of all the major social networks, as its timelines can be quickly filled with photos of all your family and friends having a good time, and written posts where they share recent experiences. 

To set up a profile you have to add some simple personal information - your full name and email address and after this almost as much or as little detail as you want. Facebook will ask for things like your hometown, where you went to school, and your favourite films, books and TV shows. If you want to embrace it and add as much as you like then go for it, but if you aren't comfortable providing too much information then that's fine too. 

You also get to add a profile picture, which people see when they look you up. Most people pick one of their favourite pictures of themselves - or just any recent one. After this, you can search for family members and friends by name and send them a request to add you as a Facebook friend. 

From here your Facebook page will build, as your timeline will be populated by everything your friends post - and this is updated in real time. 

Twitter

Twitter asks for much less personal information, but has a similar setup with a timeline of posts by people you follow. 

After creating a profile here you can search for accounts you want to follow and start following them straight away - there is no filtering process with requests unless the user has limited their profile so they are required to. 

The big difference is that the length of posts is limited to 140 characters, so users tend to keep things short and simple. The more public nature of Twitter as a form has led to it being embraced by a huge range of people, so you can follow your favourite celebrities and organisations to get regular updates from them if you choose. 

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