#TRUMP TWEETS TOO MUCH!!! So say American seniors

67% of American seniors say President Trump tweets too much.  Hardly surprising, you might say.

According to a 2017 study by the highly regarded Pew Research Center, the use of technology and social media by seniors in the United States reveals some interesting trends:

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  • 4 in 10 seniors now own smartphones, more than double the share that did so in 2013
  • Internet use and broadband adoption among those 65-69 with incomes of $75k+ is 94% compared to 51% respectively for seniors generally
  • 32% own tablets, which rises to 62% of younger, better educated and higher income seniors; while
  • 34% of seniors report using social media (rising to 56% for college educated) representing a 7% increase from 2013.

Clearly, US seniors are adopting communications technologies at an impressive rate, even more so among younger, better educated and higher income seniors.

While these findings are undoubtedly interesting, they did not tell us how seniors use the internet and how they use social media.  Which is why SJ Insights launches its digital /social media panel.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Among the highlights of the early findings are:

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87% log in to Facebook twice a day or more

50% are very concerned that they are reading “fake news”; and

67% believe that President Trump should not be using Twitter to communicate as often as he does.

 

And why exactly are seniors using social media?  Various organizations concerned with seniors’ well being have suggested the following:

  • Seniors benefit socially, mentally and physically, including reported elevated moods, increased participation in healthier activities such as cooking healthier recipes, lower blood pressure, fewer instances of diabetes and less smoking
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  • Keeping the family together by sharing messages, photos, video chats …
  • A greater sense of community by allowing seniors to make plans with others and combat loneliness for those who are housebound
  • Giving the family peace of mind by allowing adult children to check in with their parents on a regular basis
  • The convenience and savings of shopping online; and
  • The comfort of entertainment.

But some precautions should be taken.  Adult children will want to be sure that their loved ones are not falling for phishing scams.  That they are not connecting with untrustworthy people in chat rooms.  And that they don’t spend too much.

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What observations and conclusions can be drawn from these studies?

  • The use of technology among seniors is increasing. And in ten years, today’s younger seniors will be the older ones.  And they will be social media literate
  • Most important studies on this topic are undertaken in the States. More work is needed in Canada
  • More study is needed to determine whether the initial observations and hypotheses hold true
  • There is a large market for social media applications geared to seniors which has probably not been fully exploited; and
  • The benefits of social media literacy among seniors may have implications for the amount and type of care given to some seniors. And some adult children may be more comfortable living slightly further away from their aging parents.

Let me know what you think     

Are you caring for aging parents?  How social media literate are they?  Are there applications you would like to see developed for seniors? Should we be doing anything to foster the use of social media among less educated, lower-income and older seniors? Do you think current trends are positive or do we have reason to be concerned?  Are you aware of any Canadian studies on this topic? I look forward to hearing from you.

Do social media enable political movements or hinder their formation?

This is an important question given the increased and evolving uses of social media in political developments around the world. These include the fomenting and reporting on unrest during the Arab Spring, continuing demands by bloggers for human rights in China and the ongoing demonization of minorities in Myanmar by the Buddhist majority.

Image result for photos of arab spring protests

Egypt 2011 (UIUC Library Guides)

We might also ask whether social media are inherently democratizing or whether they serve the interests of state organizations, dictatorships and intelligence agencies?  Or do they boost politicians in liberal democracies who feed off conspiracy and nativism?

A simple answer or sitting on the fence

Image result for photo of trumpPresidential Assent  (The Blaze)

 

These questions have sparked considerable debate and almost everyone has an opinion.  Image result for photo of debateThe truth is probably that there is credible evidence on both sides of the debate on the effect of social media on political movements and the answer will only be determined by assessing different cases and examining the circumstances. We might conclude that while social media can enable alternative ways of doing things, they may also reinforce pre-existing norms, values and institutions.

Why should we care?

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These issues are of immediate interest to many of us.

Firstly, as citizens of Canada, what impact might social media have on the 2019 general election?  Should we be devising  and enforcing various regulations related to the use of bots, for example, as they might be used to automatically post inflammatory or nonsensical posts, disrupting political discourse while promoting populist views?

As global citizens, examination of these issues provides a very helpful window through which to interpret developments and reach conclusions.  How much was Donald Trump able to influence the outcome of the last federal election by constantly framing the debate, then reinforcing opinions by his constant references to “crooked Hillary” and “fake news” in the social media?

As travellers to out-of-the-way destinations, referral to social media posts would help to determine whether to visit or depart from a country undergoing social/political unrest.  This is potentially a very useful application as Global Affairs Canada Travel Advisories are often so alarmist that travellers would be reluctant to leave home at all!

Kidnapping, extortion, home invasion, robbery, sexual assault and other forms of aggravated assault are carried out by criminals acting individually or as a group. Assault, armed robbery and carjacking are serious problems … A large percentage of the population … is armed…  Guns and other weapons, such as machetes and knives, are frequently used. If you are threatened by robbers, do not resist; injuries and deaths have occurred when victims have resisted. (2017)

Finally, those of us who work as volunteers in developing countries, assisting non-profit organizations seeking funding, a balanced assessment of differing perspectives on the security and political realities would help us (and, ultimately, potential donors) determine whether conditions in a specified country are conductive to delivering aid at all.

Image result for development assistance photoCanada’s New Feminist Development Assistance Policy in Action (Macleans)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A call to action!

What do you think?  Should we be concerned about the role of social media in influencing international developments?  Are they forces for good or bad?  Do social media cause division or amplify it?  Depending on your answer to these questions, give some thought as to what each of us can do to help remedy some of the misuses of social media. Get in touch!