How the Baby Boomers Are Adapting to Social Media Better Than We Thought
By Victoria Manzo
Are your parents spending more time on “The Facebook” than you are? Well, just know that you’re definitely not alone.
According to the Pew Research Center’s survey of 2,003 American adults, three-quarters of parents use Facebook, as do 70% of non-parents. Furthermore, mothers are more likely to use Facebook than fathers, with 81% of moms and 66% of dads using the platform.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing to be reconnected with the past. When you get older, you yearn for the old days,” said 56-year-old Facebook user Connie Kelly. “I would never have some relationships if not for Facebook.”
Kelly introduced my mother, Francine Manzo, 59, to Facebook a year ago after their middle school reunion. Since then I’ve been asked a variety of questions regarding the acquisition of sticker emojis, collage construction, and the process of tagging.
My personal favorite question came in the form of a text message. “What does it mean when someone pokes you?” she wrote with a shock emoji. “I’m almost afraid to ask.” I quickly reassured her that it was nothing naughty. LOL-ing in class was definitely not my proudest moment.
However, I have mixed feelings about my mother’s new-found social media citizenship. Although I have not enjoyed being woken up at 6am for the urgent issue of a spelling typo in a status that needed immediate editing, I am grateful for the experiences the medium has provided for her.
After searching for nearly two decades, my mom was finally able to track down and reconnect with one of her oldest and dearest friends who had gone into hiding after an abusive relationship. This reunion brought such long awaited joy and relief to my mom’s life.
Facebook, with its user-friendly design, has also helped her evolve from a woman without basic computer skills, into a technically savvy and aware individual.
But how much social media is too much? Pew Research Center reports that 51% of parents log on several times a day.
After discovering a closed group for people born in the 50s, Manzo routinely posts daily and nightly, and shares lots of content in-between. This includes quite a few raunchy jokes, which, although hilarious, often make my siblings cringe.
According to a study conducted by iStrategyLabs, teens on Facebook have declined in recent years, whereas adult users, age 55 and older, have significantly grown.
“She is making a lot of friends that she never would have had before,” said Sal Manzo, Francine’s husband. “But I think it occupies too much of her time. She walks around with a phone charger and has one on each floor of the house.”
Social media can easily become an addiction for those experiencing it for the first time. The excess of available data is overwhelming and impossible to keep up with.
“There is a part of it that makes you feel young,” said Manzo. “You are relating to a lot of people your own age! I learn such interesting things about what’s going on in different states and countries.”
It is for this reason that I have found myself having the ‘stranger danger’ conversation with my mom. As of late, our roles have reversed. I have warn her about ‘catfishing’ and accepting strangers from her group as private friends.
Social networking provides a very similar experience for people of all generations. The same dangers that apply to adolescents also apply to adults. It can also cause some of the same problems.
“I think that she’s gotten at least one marriage proposal,” said Manzo’s husband, jokingly. “I’m just slightly jealous sometimes.”
Facebook appeals to people of all ages because of its diverse functions. It serves as an outlet for entertainment, news, venting out personal issues, and sharing personal life experiences.
Many young people turn to social media to network amongst their peers, and as an escape from parental supervision. When parents began joining and friend requesting their children, they began navigating away.
A parent’s attraction to social media, like Facebook, shows no signs of slowing down. Learning to co-exist with your elders constantly sending you Candy Crush requests is the price we must pay, thanks to modern technology.
Admittedly, I don’t always have the patience I should when she asks me questions, to which she always has a retort: “Do you know how many times I had to sing you the alphabet?” Touché, Ma. Touché.