It’s common for people to feel distant and isolated from the rest of the world as they age. In fact, loneliness and social isolation are rising public health concerns, with nearly one-quarter of adults age 65 and older being classified as socially isolated. On top of that, Coronavirus and the associated isolation and social distancing measures have exacerbated this issue in recent months.
Now more than ever, social isolation is a problem that can lead to various health risks; however, technology has provided a means of lessening its impact: social media sites.
In a time when we can’t physically be together, social media helps us feel connected to our friends and family around the world. We at CaptionCall have compiled this helpful guide, highlighting the top six social media sites for seniors in 2020. Learn how to create an account, write posts, share photos, and stay in touch with the people that are most important to you.
Facebook is probably the most popular social media site for millennials, older adults, and seniors. The platform is mainly used to keep up with friends and family, share photos and videos, and connect with other like-minded individuals around the world.
Wondering why seniors and older adults enjoy using Facebook? The same reason as the rest of us: staying connected.
In a recent survey, it was found that older adults are the fastest-growing demographic on Facebook and that they mainly use the site to chat with others, post on their “wall,” and view shared photos of their loved ones. In short, familial and friendship bonds are strengthened through this social media site, and with nearly 2.45 billion monthly active users, we can see why Facebook is so popular.
Getting Started with Facebook
If you’re interested in joining Facebook to stay connected with loved ones near and far, we’re here to help.
Creating a Facebook account is simple enough for most computer users to accomplish. When you visit www.facebook.com, you will be greeted with the “Create an Account” option on the homepage. There, you will:
- Fill out your first and last name.
- Enter your cell phone number or email address (email is easier).
- Re-enter email address.
- Create a password.
- Add your birthdate.
- Select your gender.
- Click the Sign-Up button.
Once you’ve completed all these steps, you will be directed to a code verification page. Check your email to find the four-digit code from Facebook that you need to move forward. Once you enter it on the verification page, you’re in! Now, you can start setting up your Facebook profile.
Setting Up Your Profile
Your Facebook profile contains information about you that you feel comfortable sharing. While there are response boxes for a variety of topics, you don’t have to fill in anything you don’t want to share.
The first suggestion Facebook makes for setting up your profile is to add a picture of yourself. You can upload an existing image from your computer or phone or take a brand-new picture with your webcam or phone camera. Using a picture of yourself makes it easier for friends and family to find your profile and know that it’s yours, but you can use any appropriate image.
Other information you can add to your profile includes:
- Current city.
- Relationship status.
Outside of this basic information, you can include things you’re interested in, your religious and political affiliations, family members, additional photos, and more.
To help keep your account more secure, Facebook has some strict privacy policies to protect your information. You can pick different privacy settings, including:
- Who can see your future posts.
- What people can see on your timeline.
- Who can contact you.
- What personal information (birthday, location, relationship status, etc.) is shown on your profile.
Check out this short video to learn more about selecting Facebook privacy settings.
Now that your profile is set up, it’s time to start connecting. When you open Facebook, there is a search bar at the top of the page that helps you find things on the site. Enter a friend or loved one’s name in this box, and it will bring up profiles of people with that name. Before you add anyone, make sure you’re looking at the right person.
To do this, click on their name to go directly to their profile. Then, do the following:
- Check if their profile picture is the person you know.
- If their current city is listed, make sure it matches where your friend or acquaintance lives.
- See if you have any friends in common — as you look at their profile, there will be a section for friends that will include how many mutual friends you have in parenthesis.
In addition to connecting with friends and family, you can find Facebook groups and pages geared toward almost every interest under the sun. Love fishing? There’s a group for that. Have a passion for cross stitch? Find other like-minded individuals. Want to cheer on your favorite sports team? Join other fans on your team’s Facebook page!
There are even groups dedicated to residents of specific neighborhoods, living communities, and religious groups. Connect with your neighbors or the community Facebook page to stay updated on everyone; just use that same search bar to find any group.
Posting a Status
Sharing something on Facebook is called “updating your status.” What you share here is added to the “timeline” (main page) of your Facebook profile, and it is shared with your friends and followers. To post a status, go to the box at the top of your timeline page that says “what’s on your mind?”
In this box, you can:
- Type a post.
- Share a photo or video.
- Check-in to different locations.
- Tag friends that you’re with.
- Sell items you want to get rid of.
- Ask your friends for recommendations for just about anything (restaurants, doctors, vehicle service, etc.).
You can also set individual privacy settings per post in case you don’t want someone to see what you’re sharing.
Why Seniors Love Facebook
Since Facebook is by far the most popular social media site, almost everyone you know likely has a profile. Whether it’s your kids, grandkids, school friends, childhood friends, church members, or anyone in between, you’ll probably be able to find them. Facebook helps you stay in touch with all the most important people in your life in one convenient place. You can also:
- View and share photos.
- Connect with hobby/interest groups.
- Find long-lost friends.
- Play Facebook games.
Facebook lets you do it all from the comfort of your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. Connect with everyone, no matter where they are in the world!
Want to join Facebook? Visit www.facebook.com to get started. You can also check out the helpful video below that walks you through the setup process.
Launched in 2013, Zoom is a virtual video meeting app that allows you to connect to large groups of people “face-to-face” through online video calls. Zoom has become one of the most popular apps of 2020 due to the global pandemic that’s been keeping everyone at home.
While Zoom may not seem to fit the traditional social media site mold, its ease of use and flexibility to connect people make it a vital platform for all ages. In fact, Zoom currently ranks in the Top 20 most downloaded free apps of 2020. If you’re looking for a convenient way to video chat with your family and friends, Zoom may be the perfect app for you.
Getting Started with Zoom
Signing up for a Zoom account is simple and straightforward. Visit https://zoom.us/signup to start creating your free account.
- Enter your birthday information.
- Add your email address.
That’s it! Zoom will then send a confirmation email to the address you provided. From that email, click on the confirmation link, and you’re ready to start using Zoom.
Zoom can be used on your phone or the computer — just make sure you give the app/website permission to access your camera and microphone so your loved ones can see and hear you when you video chat.
Creating Your Zoom Profile
To set up your Zoom profile, you can go on the Zoom website, sign in, and click on the profile button. Here you can:
- Add or change your profile picture.
- Create a personal meeting ID.
- Select your time zone and preferred language.
- Set your meeting capacity limit.
- See which devices you are signed into Zoom on.
Unlike Facebook, what you enter here is just general information about you; it’s not visible to other Zoom users.
Start a Zoom Meeting
When you want to video chat with someone, you need to set up a meeting with them. To do this, sign in to Zoom, click on the “Meetings” button, then select “Schedule a Meeting.”
After that, choose the date and time for your meeting, choose optional settings, and click the “Save” button. Your meeting is now set, and you’ll be given an invitation or join link for the meeting.
Inviting Others to Your Meeting
With the invitation or join link that you get after scheduling your meeting, you can allow other people to join your meeting with ease. Share the link through email, text, a group chat, or even a calendar invite to make sure everyone knows about and can access the meeting.
As people join your meeting, you’ll see a small box along the top of the screen with all the profiles of everyone in the chat. Then, whoever is talking at the moment shows up in a bigger box on your screen. Keep in mind that free Zoom accounts are limited to 40-minute meetings. When your meeting ends, you can start another one and send a new invite link if you want more time.
Why Seniors Love Zoom
In a time when we can’t physically be together, video chats are a simple way to see important people from the comfort of your own home. Phone calls, emails, and Facebook posts can’t replace the face-to-face interaction that Zoom provides. Imagine having family games nights with loved ones across the country or seeing your grandchildren do a special dance they made up just for you.
Since Zoom is only used for video chats, it is easy to use without all the other aspects of busier social media sites. You can simply log in and see your loved ones’ faces in a matter of minutes!
Get Started With Zoom
Sign up for your free Zoom account at https://zoom.us/signup. You can also view this video to watch the sign-up process:
View this video for helpful Zoom tips and tricks.
YouTube is a free video-sharing website where you can find videos for just about anything. There are roughly 500 hours worth of videos uploaded every minute, meaning the content is always fresh and evolving. One of the perks of YouTube is that you never have to post videos of your own — but you can if you like — and you can enjoy millions of videos with relative anonymity. Additionally, YouTube is easily accessible through a web browser as well as the YouTube mobile app.
With so many videos available at the click of a search bar, it’s no wonder that Youtube.com is the second most visited website in the world. And, with its comprehensive search feature, YouTube is also technically the second most popular search engine after Google.
Getting Started with YouTube
Most social media sites require an account to access all the content, but YouTube does not. You can visit www.youtube.com, type whatever you want into the search bar, and start watching videos immediately.
However, to access the more social aspects of YouTube, having an account is beneficial. To create an account, follow these steps.
- Go to www.youtube.com
- Click on the “Sign In” button in the top right corner.
- Select “Create Account.”
- Choose the “for myself” option to indicate that this is a personal account and not a business profile.
Once you have a YouTube account, you can:
- Like/dislike videos.
- Save videos.
- Subscribe to channels.
- Save videos to a “Watch Later” list.
- View your watch history.
- Report inappropriate videos.
- Comment on others’ videos.
Additionally, as you like/dislike videos, subscribe to different users, and save different videos, the YouTube algorithm learns your preferences and recommends content that is similar to your general interests.
If you particularly like or dislike a video and want to let the creator know, you can leave a comment. While you are logged into your YouTube account, scroll down underneath the video to find the comment section. Whatever message you choose to leave is visible to the creator and anyone else who views the video, and it will be linked to your username.
Liking and Sharing
Liking or disliking a video is simple: Just click the thumbs up or thumbs down beneath the video, and your like or dislike is counted. If you want to share a video that you enjoyed, there are a few more easy steps involved.
Next to the thumbs up/thumbs down symbols, there is an arrow pointing right that says “Share.” When you click on it, a new window will pop up with your share options. You can copy the available link if you want to send the video through text or messages, or you can share directly to the other social media sites listed in the window. Simply check where you want to share the video, and you’re ready to go.
Subscribing to Channels
There are many YouTube creators, and you’ll likely find at least a few that you really connect with. When this happens, you can subscribe to their channel to see all their future content. To do this, click on the red “Subscribe” button to the right side of their username when you are looking at one of their videos.
From there, you can manage your subscription choice by clicking on the little bell that shows up after you hit subscribe. This bell allows you to adjust your notification settings: You can opt to receive a notification for every new video from that user, only some of their new videos, or no notifications at all.
Why Seniors Love YouTube
Given the fact that 51% of seniors 75 or older are active YouTube watchers, it’s safe to say this is a popular site for older adults. Many people learn better through visuals, so watching how-to or DIY videos is extremely helpful for seniors.
Additionally, with such a wide variety of videos on the site, seniors can even listen to music from their younger years and view some older shows and ads while still staying current with the latest trends and offerings on the site.
Get Started with YouTube
To create a YouTube account, visit www.youtube.com and click the “Sign In” button in the top right corner and follow the prompts.
Check out this video that walks you through creating a YouTube account.
When you strictly want to share and comment on pictures and videos of yourself, your friends and family, celebrities, businesses, or adorable animals, Instagram is the social media platform to use. Unlike Facebook or Twitter — where users can share general posts, articles, and more — Instagram started as a photo-sharing app. It has since evolved into one of the most popular social media platforms on which people can post pictures, videos, and stories that others can view, comment on, and use.
Currently, Instagram is the second most-downloaded app in the Apple Store, boasting 1 billion users every month. It’s one of the fastest-growing social media sites and is available throughout the world.
While Instagram can be accessed through a web browser and mobile app, you’ll get the best user experience by using the app. Here, we’ll walk you through the account creation steps required by the mobile app.
First, download Instagram from the App Store (Apple iOS) or Google Play Store (Android). When you open the app, you will immediately be prompted to log in or create a new account. Enter either your email address or cell phone number, then tap the “Next” button. If you use your cell phone number, there is an extra layer of security: Instagram will send you a text containing a confirmation code that you’ll need to enter into the app. You will also be given the option to log in using your Facebook account, so that’s a good option if you have one.
After you’ve entered your email or added the text confirmation code, you’ll be prompted to create a username. This can be anything: Your first name and last name, a common nickname you go by, or anything else you may choose. When you have selected a username, Instagram will let you know if it’s available or already taken by another user.
Once you’ve created your username, you’ll be asked to add basic information to your profile, such as your name and a short bio, so people know who you are; however, Instagram does not require you to add any personal information (birthday, location, etc.), fill out your bio, or even add a profile picture if you don’t want to.
Adding a Profile Picture
If you choose to add a profile picture, the process is relatively simple. When you open the app, you’ll see what is called your “Feed.” Look to the bottom of this screen to find a navigation bar with different icons. The icon in the bottom right corner takes you directly to your own profile. Tap on it to move forward.
Once you’re on your profile, you’ll see a large, empty circle on the top left side. If you tap on the circle, it takes you to your phone’s camera (you have to give permission if you haven’t already), and you can take a profile picture from there. If you want to add an existing picture from your phone or Facebook, press and hold your finger on the circle, and a new menu will pop up.
You’ll then be given three options:
- New profile picture.
- Import from Facebook.
- Remove profile picture (this is if you want to remove a picture completely).
When you’ve chosen a profile photo, you’ll be taken to the Instagram template screen. Whichever photo you select — or take — can be moved around to fit within the circle template.
Once you like how it looks, tap the blue arrow in the upper right corner. This takes you to a filter screen, on which you can choose between preset filters or edit your photo in different ways (this is optional). When you’re done with this section, tap the blue arrow again, and your Instagram profile picture will be updated.
Posting to Your Feed
When you’re ready to make your first post, tap the “+” sign in the square in the upper right corner. You’ll be directed to your phone’s photo gallery, and the last picture you took will pop up on the screen. Underneath that picture, you’ll see a black bar across the screen that says “Gallery” on the left and has two icons on the right.
The first of these icons is the multiple picture tool. This allows you to select up to 10 photos or videos for your post and arrange them in any order you want. The second icon is the camera button, which switches to your camera, so you can take a picture from there.
After you’ve chosen your photo, tap the blue arrow in the top right corner. Once again, you’ll be directed to the filter/edit screen. Edit your photo however you like, then tap the blue arrow again to proceed to the caption page. Here, you can write a message or caption about your photo, tag other users, and share your posts to other linked accounts like Facebook and Twitter. When you’ve finished, tap the blue checkmark in the top right corner, and your picture(s) and/or video(s) will be shared to the feeds of your followers.
Sharing a Story
Instagram has a feature called “Stories.” You can add photos or videos, share posts you like, or create a blank screen with text and various stamps and stickers, much like you can with normal posts. The main difference is that stories are temporary: Whatever you add will disappear after 24 hours. It’s not gone forever, though; Instagram keeps an archive of your stories that you can access at any time. You can add multiple stories in a 24-hour period, they will simply run back to back whenever someone views them.
You can post to your story in two ways:
- Tap the “+” sign like you do when creating a regular post. On the post screen, you’ll see a small black bar at the bottom with options for “Story,” “Reel,” and “Live.” Tap “Story,” and you’ll be directed to your phone’s camera.
- Tap the icon in the bottom left side of the screen to open your feed. In the top left corner, you will see your profile picture with a “+” on it and the text “Your Story” below. Tap this to open the story page. **If you already have an active story, you will need to instead hold your finger on the picture to pop up the option to add to your story.
Once you are on the story posting page, you will find icons on the left side of the screen that do different things:
- “AA” helps you add text to the screen.
- The infinity symbol creates a boomerang effect (the clip starts then comes back or rewinds like a boomerang).
- The square icon lets you adjust the layout to add up to four images on one story.
- The circle with dashes around it is a multi-capture feature that allows you to take multiple images at one time.
- The circle with the line through it brings up a grid on your screen to help you lineup and align photos or videos.
- The square with multiple squares behind it allows you to take pictures as if you’re in a photobooth.
- The target symbol can add a variety of fun filter options over your photo or video.
- The square within a circle icon allows for hands-free video recorder.
At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a large white circle. Tap this to take a photo, hold it down to record a video. To the left and right of this white circle are other special effects that can add fun features to your photos or videos.
Navigating Your Feed
Upon opening Instagram, you’ll immediately be taken to your feed. This is where you can see pictures and videos posted by the accounts you follow. Simply swipe up to scroll and move from one post to the next. When you see a post, there are a few things to know.
In the top left corner of the post, you’ll see the username and profile picture of whoever posted the photo.
In the top right corner, you’ll see three stacked dots. If you click on those dots, a small menu appears and offers different options, including:
- Report (if the post is inappropriate).
- Turn on post notifications (you’ll get notifications for comments on this specific post).
- Copy link (if you want to share the link to this specific post).
- Share to… (share the post with other Instagram users, through text message, or on other social media sites).
- Unfollow (if you see a post from someone you no longer want to follow, click on this option).
- Mute (if you still want to “follow” someone but don’t want to see their posts anymore, select this option).
Underneath the photo, you’ll see four different icons.
- Heart — This is how you like photos. Just click on the heart, and you’ve liked it. You can also double-tap on the photo to achieve the same result.
- Speech bubble — This takes you to the comment section, where you can read comments or post your own.
- Paper airplane — This is how you send the post within Instagram messaging. Write your own message, pick who you are sending it to, and hit the send button.
- Flag — Select this to save the post to your collection, meaning you can revisit it anytime you want.
- If you see horizontal dots underneath the photo, there are multiple images within the post. Swipe left to see all the images. The dots will illuminate based on which photo you are viewing, i.e., if you are viewing photo two of four, the second dot will be white, while the others will be gray.
Under the icons, you’ll again see the username of whoever made the post as well as a snippet of the post caption. Click on the “…more” option to see the entire description.
Across the bottom of your feed, there are five navigation icons:
- The house icon takes you back to your main feed.
- The magnifying glass takes you to the search feature. You can search for usernames, hashtags, and a variety of other things.
- The play button takes you to the Reels channel, so you can watch everyone’s videos, even if you don’t follow them.
- The shopping bad takes you to the “Shop Instagram” page where you can browse through a variety of shops or search for specific products.
- Your profile picture takes you to your profile. If you don’t have a profile picture, this option will appear as a person icon, as seen above.
@ Symbols and # (Hashtags)
While they aren’t automatically displayed this way, all usernames start with an @ symbol. If you want to tag another user in your photo or in the comments, type @username.
While you grew up knowing this symbol # as the pound sign, in the social media world, it is known as a hashtag. Hashtags are a simple way to categorize photos and make them easily searchable by other users.
Say you have a monthly family dinner with your loved ones and want to share a photo of it. When posting, use the hashtag #monthlyfamilydinner in the caption. This groups it with other similar posts on Instagram. Of course, you don’t have to use hashtags if you don’t want to.
Why Seniors Love Instagram
Of the older adults that use Instagram, 23% are between the ages of 50 and 64 while 8% are age 65+. Seniors enjoy this app because it’s like a miniature picture book; they can browse photos and videos of their loved ones without being bogged down by lengthy posts like on Facebook. They get to see all the best pictures, like and comment on them, and still stay connected in one simple place.
Join Instagram Today
If you’re ready to join Instagram, download the app to get started. If you need additional assistance, check out the video below.
While Instagram is photo-oriented, Twitter is all about text posts. Anything posted in a tweet (Twitter post) must be short and sweet: it can only be 280 characters long, including spaces. Of course, you can make multiple tweets on one topic, but you’ll still want to be concise when posting. Twitter is most popular with millennials, but around 7% of users are age 65+.
Create a Twitter Account
If you’d like to join Twitter, head to www.twitter.com. On the welcome page, you’ll see a button that says, “Sign Up.” Click it to get started.
The first step in joining Twitter is to create your profile. Enter your name — this will be your Twitter username, and it can be your real name or a nickname — then your email or phone number. A verification code will be sent to you through either text or email depending on which you choose. Enter that code to move forward and create your account password.
Now you’re in and can start using Twitter!
Adding a Profile Picture
Once you’ve logged into Twitter, you’ll see three horizontal lines in the top left corner. Click on these lines to open a sub-menu. Select your name at the top of the menu to go to your profile. On the right-hand side of your profile, look for the button that says “Edit Profile.” Click it to update your profile information, including:
- Profile picture.
- Bio information.
- Website (if you have one).
After you’ve added all the information, click on the blue “Save” button in the top right corner to update your changes.
Creating a Tweet
In the bottom right corner of your main Twitter feed, you’ll see a blue circle with a quill and a + sign in it. If you click here, you’ll be directed to the place where you can write your tweet.
Remember that tweets can only be 280 characters long, so as you type, pay attention to the open blue circle in the bottom right corner of your screen. It will start to fill up like a loading bar as you type. Once you get to 260 characters — 20 characters left — the circle will turn yellow and count down as you enter the last 20 characters. If you exceed the limit, the text turns red; anything highlighted in red will not be included in the tweet. After you’ve written what you want to say, hit the blue “Tweet” button in the top right corner to send your post out into the world.
At the bottom of your Twitter feed, you’ll see a navigation bar with four icons.
- The house icon opens your main feed.
- The magnifying glass lets you search Twitter by usernames, keywords, or hashtags as well as trending information, news, sports, entertainment, and more.
- The bell opens your notification screen, on which you can see accounts you follow and what they have tweeted as well as any tweets in which you were mentioned.
- The letter icon opens your message box, which shows any messages that you have sent or received from others.
Looking at Tweets
When you are looking at a tweet, there are a few different things to notice.
On the left-hand side, you’ll see the profile picture of whoever wrote it. Next to this picture, you’ll see their name is dark text, their @username in lighter text, and a timestamp displaying when they posted the tweet.
Underneath these, you’ll see the tweet text. If they included an image, it will appear below the text. Regardless, at the bottom of the tweet, you will find four icons:
- The message bubble opens the comment section. Click here to read replies or add your own. The number next to it shows how many comments have already been made.
- The two arrows in a square allows you to retweet the post. If you click this, you can easily add someone else’s tweet to your profile and even add your own comment on top of it. The number next to this shows how many times the post has been retweeted.
- The heart icon is for liking posts. Simply click here to like a tweet. The number next to it shows how many times it has been liked.
- The arrow icon allows you to share the tweet. You can send it in a direct message, to your Facebook or Instagram feed, and more.
Why Seniors Love Twitter
With shorter character limits on tweets, posts are easier to read and usually get straight to the point. This quick stream of information makes it easier to stay updated with all your friends and loved ones. The format makes it a handy way to keep up with trending stories, local and national news, and current popular trends, all contained in one place.
If you’re ready to join the “Twittersphere,” visit www.twitter.com to get started. For a visual, step-by-step guide to getting started, check out the video below.
Social Media Tips
While social media sites are great for connecting with friends and loved ones, there are a few simple ways to make the process safer and more enjoyable:
- Ask for help if you need it.
- Mind your privacy settings.
- Be selective in who you add or follow.
- Follow Internet etiquette.
You can access more handy information here to help make dipping your toes into social media a positive experience.
Enjoy Your Connections
Every social media site has different features, but they all share one common goal: to help you stay connected. There’s no rule against having more than one social media account, so you can join any number of sites you want. Spend some time with each to see which best fits your needs. If you love them all, then use them all!
Social media is made for everyone. Regardless of your age, you’ll find that these sites are a great way to keep in touch with friends, loved ones, communities, and the rest of the world.