Senior Scrolling on Social Media

Brianna Maguire

Written by Brianna Maguire on Tue Oct 10 2023.

Couple using social media.

Senior Scrolling on Social Media

Key Takeaways

  • Older adults spend an average of 8 hours per week on social media.

  • The three social media platforms that seniors believe most improve their life are Facebook (51%), Reddit (23%), and Pinterest (23%).

  • 40% of seniors believe the presence of older adults on social media could challenge stereotypes and combat ageism.

  • Over 3 in 4 older adults feel that younger generations welcome them on social media.

  • There is a projected 212% increase in likes on #tiktokgrandma and #tiktokgrandpa content from 2022 to 2023.

  • Among seniors who prefer political content on social media, 27% don’t fact-check social media information.

  • 1 in 5 older adults use social media as a platform for activism or social change.

Social Media Isn’t Just for Kids

Move over, Gen Z, and make room for the new kids on the social media block: your grandparents. Older adults are flocking to social media and taking over with popular feeds, trending hashtags, and influencer accounts. We wanted to find out just how popular social media is among older adults, so we surveyed 489 Americans aged 58 and older about their social media use. We also visited TikTok to learn about the latest #tiktokgrandma and #tiktokgrandpa trends. Let’s scroll through our findings.

Older Adults Online

How often do older adults log on to social media? Let’s take a look at how they spend their time online, including their favorite platforms and content.

On average, the older adults we surveyed spent 8 hours per week on social media. While nowhere near the 28 hours per week Gen Z spends online, older adults enjoyed using social media to follow friends (83%), family (73%), acquaintances (42%), and even a few celebrities (23%). As for favorite social media platforms, seniors highly preferred Facebook and used it at almost twice the rate of any other platform.

That said, different platforms fulfilled various needs of older adults. Facebook and Instagram helped seniors stay in touch with loved ones and maintain relationships, while Pinterest and Reddit allowed them to explore and engage with topics, hobbies, and communities of interest. Older adults turned to Twitter for news updates and current events but preferred TikTok for leisure entertainment, funny videos, and memes.

Of all the content available on social media, 37% of older adults most enjoyed the personal stories of others, 36% preferred political content, and 32% liked cooking and food-related content. Whatever content they encountered, most seniors didn’t fully trust social media and spent an average of 35 minutes per week fact-checking information. However, 27% of seniors who preferred political content on social media didn’t fact-check at all.

But older adults weren’t simply scrolling and logging off: 1 in 5 used social media as a platform for activism and social change. Many older adults lived through the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Rights Movement, hippie counterculture, and Vietnam War protests, so they’re no strangers to activism and can be a powerful voice for social justice.

Community in Your Pocket

For many older adults, social media is a way to stay connected with loved ones and be involved in a community without leaving the house.

Social media can be a powerful tool for connection, and almost 90% of seniors said it helped them connect with friends and family. Another 72% said social media helped them maintain friendships, and 26% said it helped them make new friends and find an online community.

Included in that community are younger generations. Over 3 in 4 older adults felt welcomed on social media by younger generations, including 86% who felt welcomed on TikTok. Older adults are hopeful that these connections between young and old can positively impact society: 40% believed the visible presence of more seniors on social media would challenge stereotypes and combat ageism.

With all these connections and potential for change, studies suggest social media can improve mental health in older adults by decreasing loneliness. Indeed, 51% of older adults felt Facebook improved their lives since joining, and another 23% felt Reddit and Pinterest had done the same.

Pop-Pop Is Trending!

While Facebook is the preferred platform for older adults to connect with friends and family, TikTok leads the way for entertainment. Among this entertainment are some rising senior stars. We looked at senior-related hashtags on TikTok, including #tiktokgrandma and #tiktokgrandpa, to learn more about the rising popularity of older adults on social media.

TikTok users love TikTok grandparents almost as much as their own, watching their videos for life advice, relationship advice, and more. The average videos tagged #tiktokgrandma and #tiktokgrandpa had 5,166 likes and 129 comments. And that’s just the beginning: Our data projected a 212% increase in likes on #tiktokgrandma and #tiktokgrandpa content from 2022 to 2023.

Other senior-related hashtags are also thriving. Videos tagged #tiktokgrandma or #tiktokgrandpa paired with #streetwear received an average of 17 million likes, with grandparent fashion accounts like Jaadiee gaining millions of followers. Videos with the hashtag #lifewithgrandkids racked up an average of 10 million likes, while those with grandparents playing pranks had an average of 7 million likes.

While liking grandparent videos on social media may seem trivial, the popularity of these videos can increase older adult visibility and remind people about the relevance and vital importance of seniors in our society.

For Ages 58 and Up

Older adults are debunking the myth that people of a certain age can’t use technology. Seniors are thriving on social media, making connections, combating ageism, and fighting for social change. As older adults continue to embrace social media and bring awareness to their causes, younger generations might better understand their parents and grandparents and the urgency for support in senior care. In addition, older adults can feel less lonely, enjoy more community, and finally have an outlet to share their stories, advice, and groovy street style.

Methodology

Carewell surveyed 489 Americans aged 58 or older regarding their experiences with and opinions of social media. All survey data was self-reported. We also conducted a TikTok scrape of the hashtags #tiktokgrandma and #tiktokgrandpa on videos posted from January 1, 2019, to June 1, 2023. To show the average like data over time, the data for the remainder of 2023 was projected based on the existing 2023 data.

About Carewell

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Fair Use Statement

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Brianna Maguire
Brianna Maguire

Brianna Maguire heads up Carewell’s Customer Care Team, and serves as a resource for caregivers that need support. Whether it’s helping customers decide which products are best for their needs, answering caregiver questions, or just providing a shoulder to lean on on a tough day, her job is to make caregivers’ lives easier.