Silver Surfers: How social media keeps you healthy

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Theres a section in India Knight’s book In Your Prime about technology and growing older, which perfectly sums up how I feel about people (particularly older people) who refuse to get involved with social media  “There is no heroism in being a luddite. There is nothing charming about not understanding ‘computers’. The rest of us all like real books and letters too, and it’s very tiresome when people announce this pretence as it somehow makes them special”.

People who still can’t answer an email, understand Twitter, or find stuff out online, annoy the Hell out of me – I’m sorry folks, but this is modern life and the way people communicate and refusing to understand this, puts middle-aged people (because really old people have an excuse – we don’t) into the “ancient old dullards” category and do no favours for the rest of us.

When someone announces “they are just too busy for Twitter” or “can’t stand all that over sharing on Facebook” I switch off and try not to get into an argument about why they are missing out on a huge part of modern life – as they are usually either too lazy, or too scared to get involved.

Of course there are people who share their every thought on social media, but they are usually the people who do this in real life and personally I think it’s their choice. If you are a private person then its entirely possible to stay that way even on Facebook. Social media is simply a way of keeping in touch with life, just like letters, magazines and newspapers.

Interestingly it seems it can become even more relevant as we age as a recent study by the University of Exeter has found that people should use Facebook and other social media websites to prevent their health declining.The study found pensioners who spend time online do not feel as lonely as others their age, which could stunt deterioration of physical and mental health.

The project’s leader, Dr Thomas Morton, said ‘Human beings are social animals, and it’s no surprise that we tend to do better when we have the capacity to connect with others. But what can be surprising is just how important social connections are to cognitive and physical health. People who are socially isolated or who experience loneliness are more vulnerable to disease and decline.

One participant said learning how to navigate her way through the internet had ‘changed her life’.

‘Having this training changes people’s lives and opens up their worlds, invigorates their minds and for lots of us gives us a completely different way of recognising our worth as we age, I was just slipping away into a slower way of life’.

So if you know anyone who still refuses to engage with technology, perhaps this is a good way to encourage them to get involved. Using social media is not only interesting, it’s actually good for our health!!

5 Comments

  • steffi says:

    Jane loving this rant and TOTALLY agree with you as it’s all about communication and let’s face it, we ALL need to communicate with each other not only more but also better. Just because it’s social media doesn’t mean it doesn’t count or that it isn’t the “right” way to communicate – like you say, the people who don’t communicate in real life, continue their silence on social media. Shame. The modern world is offering us such a great chance to widen/change/evolve our communication. Stay silent, remain unheard. Get in the conversation, tell someone! X

  • Sarah says:

    So agree. Mother in law (70, scared of tech) once said computers are for dull people… Then saw how much easier is was to communicate with g/children if you join them online. Guess who is addicted to her iPad now!

  • Father Bob says:

    Both my wife, of fifty years plus and I, have do not consider ourselves “ancient old dullards” ,daily log into your blog, email our friends, order on line but, question why we should start twittering or face booking. The advances in technology which has taken place in our life time ,(we remember listening to the wireless) is overwhelming, but does every young person really need to have their mobile permanently attached to their ear,and is there not a large amount of needless trivia produced via the social networks.
    Us “oldies” believe there is still a place in our society for using the spoken word by making a phone call or penning a letter to a love one or friend .

  • Jan says:

    I agree absolutely with the comment “There is no heroism in being a luddite. There is nothing charming about not understanding ‘computers.” IT offers a world of opportunity for everyone. The ability to find out information, learn new skills, even check a recipe via, for example, Google is fantastic and I wouldn’t be without it. I don’t feel the same about social media. Suggesting that everyone, ” (particularly older people) ” should get into Twitter or Facebook seems hugely simplistic. A bit like saying that if you have access to TV you should watch reality programmes because most people do apparently and the same for playing Candy Crush if you have a smart phone. All that sharing stuff reminds me of the once ubiquitous Round Robin letters. Perhaps there are less of them about because the writers can now tell the entire internet about the ups and downs of their daily life. I’m with ‘Father Bob’ on this one. Pick up the phone and talk to your friends once in a while.

  • Jane says:

    Father Bob and Jan

    I totally agree phone calls, letters and face to face communication is key to everyday life and should not be replaced with social media and I certainly dont think over sharing is a good thing. But what I am saying is that its also important to tune into the fact that online is another way (as well as face to face etc) that lots of people communicate these days and its not good to shut it out completely – which some (not you) older people can do !!

    J x

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