It has been a long-standing joke between my friends and I that my mother is more active on social media than I am. She is active, she is digitally vocal, and the woman has push notifications for every time I post something. At least none of my posts will go like-less, right?
For those of you who know me, you are aware that I am no infrequent social media user. However, I must admit it gets discouraging when a photo I post garners 10 likes, while my mother’s at minimum scores 60. The 60 likes don’t even include the 5-15 comments she is sure to get as well. Social media feels like a catalog of what is going on in my real life, whereas my mother has an entire second life with people from all of her past lives (high school, college, first job) living online and talking to one another.
In addition to Facebook, my mother has also taken to Twitter to make sure her digital voice is heard. Specifically, my mother’s Twitter account is a place for her alter ego @1dopemother. She has never been as active on Twitter as she has on Facebook, but the platform did become a focal point of her attention for a short stint of time. My mother’s obsession with social media can certainly feel unique when every single picture in my recently posted album is immediately liked, but it made me start to wonder how unique this over-active Gen X user thing really was.
I started looking into the demographics of social media users to find that baby boomers using Facebook is not only common, but they are spending more time on the platform than millennials are per week! A report done by Nielsen found that 35-49 year olds averaged 6 hours and 58 minutes per week on Facebook, whereas Millennials aged 18-34 spent 6 hours and 19 minutes on Facebook. This definitely helps to explain why older users are more engaged in the platform (liking, commenting, posting) because they are inherently spending more time connected to the platform.
I then looked into why older users are so drawn to the platform. Researchers found that older users were on Facebook to stay connected with old friends and to maintain existing relationships. Separately a study conducted by Penn State University revealed that older people are motivated by a desire to see what their children and grandchildren are doing, but also saw Facebook as a means of staying connected. My mother can be the poster child for this phenomenon.
Twitter’s user demographics have a slightly different story. While a smaller percentage of Gen X and Baby Boomers have Twitter accounts, the older generation is equally as engaged on the platform as Millennials are. The moral of this story is that a smaller percentage of older generations have social media accounts, but older users that do have social media accounts are very active on them.
Millennials think that older users are “uncool,” however, older users are the dream user for these social platforms! They are taking advantage of all of the functionalities of their Twitter and Facebook accounts such as retweeting, commenting and liking. Millennials are perusers who view as opposed to interact when they go online. While my mom is not completely off the hook for her social media behavior, at least it is confirmed that the rest of her generation is just as guilty as she is.