By Karen Hendricks
72% of American adults now use some form of social media, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. Among the fastest-growing demographic group are those in the 65+ age category, tripling their presence on social networking sites during the last four years from 13% to 43%. As The Washington Post recently summarized, “Your grandma is three times as likely to use a social networking site now as in 2009.”
I can attest to this personally, having taught several rounds of “The Art of Social Media,” a “social media 101” series through a local arts council. The majority of my class attendees are those in the 55+ category, although there have consistently been a smattering of younger and middle-age attendees as well.
It’s always interesting to hear attendees’ motivation for signing up for the workshops, a four-week series totaling eight hours of instruction on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other forms of social media. The most consistent answer I receive is, “I’ve been resistant to social media–I thought it was a fad–but now that I realize it’s here to stay, I want to learn it.” That answer comes from people of all ages!
But the most common response from older attendees is “I want to communicate with my grandchildren and connect with them on Facebook (or Twitter).” And it’s so thrilling to hear their success stories, as they begin connecting with their grandchildren, sharing photos and communicating via new methods!
What are some additional reasons people want to learn about social media? Here are some more responses I often hear during my classes:
- I’ve had a fear of computers but I’m ready to tackle social media now
- As long as you show me how to keep my profiles and photos private, viewed by friends only, I’m ready for social media
- I’ve tried to learn about social media myself, but it’s been too hard
- I want to learn about social media so I can use it for my business
- I need to establish a LinkedIn profile for my career
- I already know a little bit about social media, but I definitely need to expand my knowledge
If you’d like to join in the next session of The Art of Social Media, offered Wednesday evenings in September at the Adams County Arts Council, Gettysburg, PA, click here for online registration or call the arts council at 717-334-5006. If your September calendar is already busy, please note the 4-week session is being offered on Wednesday evenings in October as well.
To read more from the August 5, 2013 Pew Research report on social media use, click here.