How to promote SNSs to be more suitable for older people

We are in an aging world and nearly a billion people are over 60 years old. Even these one billion aged people are getting older and older. Many of them face the same problem- social isolation. One of the ways to fight against social isolation is to participate in SNSs. What is SNSs? SNSs mean social network services. It’s an on-line environment where people can meet their friends and family and know new friends like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and so on. According to former researches, there are 86 percentage of people aged between 18 to 29 use SNS, whereas few people older than 65 use it. (Coelho, J., & Duarte, C. 2016.) So we can see here is still a big space for SNS to promote in older age groups. But why few older people use SNS and how to promote SNS to make it more suitable for older segment of the population?

The thesis Obstacles to social networking website use among older adults aims to find more about SNS adoption among older internet users. Braun (2013) did a questionnaire based on TAM (Technology Acceptance Model- this model has two main factors: perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness). He picked up 124 internet users older than 60 to do the questionnaire. And the items in the questionnaire are mainly related to the following 6 domains:

  • Perceived usefulness: how users believe the usefulness of SNS as a communication tool is important in older people’s attitudes toward SNS.
  • Ease of use: how easy to use this SNS is partially important for older internet users.
  • Subjective norms (social influence): the usage habits of individuals around the older like his/her friends and family also affect their attitudes.
  • Trust of SNS: if the website is more reliable, users would more like to upload their identity information, pictures and other privacy information and also use that SNS more.
  • Age: it shows to be not a big factor for using SNS among older internet users. Maybe the participants are all internet users, so most of them are relatively open minded aged people.
  • Past behavior: to start to use a specific SNS is a big obstacle for older people sometimes, but after getting an account, older people may get familiar with the SNS much quicker.

(Braun, M. T., 2013.)

Based on these consequences given by Braun, SNSs Operators need focus more on security of accounts and users’ safety. In addition, according to A literature survey on older adults’ use of social network services and social applications, older people are more sensitive to images. SNS operators should make it easier to share photos on its interface, let older people easy to find privacy setting, provide settings like family group and make the direct communication interface easy to be found. (Coelho, J., & Duarte, C. 2016) All in all, every setting should be the simplest and direct communication interface and photos uploading pages need to be found easily.

The author Zihua AN is a student in the Master’s Degree Program in Media Education

 

References

  • Braun, M. T. (2013). Obstacles to social networking website use among older adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 673-680.
  • Coelho, J., & Duarte, C. (2016). A literature survey on older adults’ use of social network services and social applications. Computers in Human Behavior, 58, 187-205.

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