When it comes to privacy on Facebook, older adults are more suspicious about who is viewing their posts and this may deter them from using the social networking platform, say researchers led by an Indian-origin professor.
In a study of older people’s perception of Facebook by the team from Pennsylvania State University, participants listed keeping in touch, monitoring other’s updates and sharing photos as main reasons for using Facebook.
However, the elderly listed privacy as well as the triviality of some posts as reasons they stay away from the site.
“The biggest concern is privacy and it’s not about revealing too much, it’s that they assume that too many random people out there can get their hands on their information,” said S. Shyam Sundar, Professor, Media Effects Research Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University.
The researchers, who report their findings in a forthcoming issue of the journal Telematics and Informatics, said Facebook developers should focus on privacy settings to tap into the seniors market.
They also suggested that Facebook is helping to serve as a communications bridge between the generations and young people are promoting their older family members to join the social networking site.
“In particular, unlike younger people, most older adults were encouraged by younger family members to join Facebook so that they could communicate,” added Eun Hwa Jung, Assistant Professor of communications and new media, National University of Singapore.
“This implies that older adults’ interaction via social networking sites can contribute to effective intergenerational communication,” Jung added.
The researchers recruited a small group of participants who were between 65 and 95 years old to take part in in-depth interviews.
If participants had a Facebook account, researchers asked them about their experience and their motivations for joining. Participants who did not use Facebook were asked why they did not join.
Because all of the participants in this study lived in a retirement home, the researchers said that future research should look at the perception and use of Facebook by seniors who live alone.