We all have them: Family members and friends who, despite our repeated urging – pleading even – refuse to use social media. The conversation usually ends with some variation of “I don’t have time,” or “Nobody wants to know where I went on vacation.” The more we cajole, the deeper they seem to dig in their heels.
The next time the topic comes up, consider approaching it from a different angle. Instead of talking up how it helps you stay in touch with family and friends, try mentioning the many other benefits associated with friending, following, tweeting, pinning and more. Here’s a list of some of the surprising social networking perks you may not be aware of:
May Lower Stress
A survey by Pew Research Center found that, overall, frequent internet and social media users do not have higher levels of stress. In fact, according to the 2015 report, the opposite is true for women who use certain digital technologies; those who use Twitter and email and share cellphone pictures reported lower levels of stress.
Can Boost Cognitive Functioning
Can Facebook positively impact cognitive skills and abilities? According to Janelle Wohltmann Myhre, a graduate student studying psychology at the University of Arizona, it can.
Wohltmann Myhre conducted a study of 41 adults with a mean age of 79.4. Some of the study’s participants took a class on learning to use the social networking site, whereas the others didn’t. At the end of the eight-week study period, those who took part in the class performed better on tests of cognitive functioning, suggesting that learning to use social media may have a positive effect on mental health in older adults.
This is consistent with previous research which indicates that older adults who remain cognitively and socially engaged have better mental function than those who are disengaged.
May Improve Quality of Life
Just like buzzworthy content can go viral, enthusiasm and support for health goals posted to social media can be catchy too, researchers suspect. Interacting with friends on social media can have a healthy “contagion” effect, promoting and helping with dieting, exercising, and smoking cessation goals.
Use of social media has also been shown to improve mood and can even aid in stroke recovery. And don’t forget that there are lots of supportive social networking sites out there besides Facebook. Lotsa Helping Hands and Caring Bridge are two such examples.
Can Facilitate Relationships
Contrary to concerns about the potentially addictive and socially-alienating effects of social networking, data from Pew Research Center suggests that social media use doesn’t turn its users into isolated loners. Rather, the average social media user has more close ties and is much less likely to be socially isolated than the average American.
Pew Research Center also found that Facebook users have more close relationships, are more trusting and are more politically engaged.
May Enhance What You Already Do
Social media has evolved into so much more than just an option for chatting with friends. Reluctant social media users may not realize that many of the activities they’re already involved in can be enhanced through social networking.
For example, does your reluctant friend or family member know that they can follow their favorite news columnist or site on Twitter? Do they know that they can “Like” their favorite retailers on Facebook for special deals and promotions delivered to their newsfeed daily, instead of spending time clipping coupons? Do they know that they can create a board on Pinterest where they can save inspirational ideas for when they’re ready to redecorate or remodel their home? Do they know that they can learn from the expertise and insights of others on LinkedIn, and even showcase their own professional services?
Try suggesting some of these great features to help loved ones lead more engaged lives.
If all else fails, try to entice them with online games. Not many people can resist the allure of games like Candy Crush Saga and Words with Friends. These two popular examples can be downloaded as standalone smartphone apps, but they can be played without a smartphone through their Facebook versions.
Of course, even if after you’ve recited this convincing list of arguments, the hold-outs still don’t want to join Facebook and become your newest friend, that’s perfectly okay. After all, for every benefit of social media use, there’s a drawback that could be used to argue against it. But whether they like it or not, social media isn’t going away. And with more than 65 percent of online adults age 50-65 using social media, who wouldn’t want to get in on that conversation?
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