By Vanessa Mangru-Kumar // SWNS
It isn’t just for young people anymore — the average American 65 and older spends nearly 300 hours a year on social media, according to new research.
A survey of 2,000 seniors who use social media looked at their usage and habits and found that they spend an average of 47 minutes a day on these platforms.
Nearly a quarter can’t seem to get enough, spending upwards of an hour every day scrolling (24%).
While half of respondents use social media to kill time (54%), others reconnect with friends (61%) and stay in touch with other loved ones (58%).
Nearly four in 10 have even made a new friend on social media (39%).
It has proved to be useful in other ways, too, with a majority saying they’ve learned something new from social media that was helpful in their lives (63%).
Thirty-five percent of seniors see these platforms as a reliable source for keeping up with news and another 32% use it to seek out information.
The survey conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by ClearMatch Medicare found that seniors are most interested in health-related content online (46%).
That was followed closely by food-related content (43%), entertainment (36%) and politics (33%).
However, 60% recognize that social media is only a trustworthy source of information sometimes.
Still, nearly one in five are under the impression that it’s trustworthy most of the time (19%), and a similar percentage admit they don’t have a great understanding of how to safely navigate these platforms (20%).
The average senior polled believes that about 43% of the information they see online is true.
Two-thirds of respondents believe that they’re stigmatized for easily falling for misinformation (67%) — and 36% would have to agree.
"There has been a growing intricacy in scams, making them harder to detect in the last decade," said Ben Pajak, CEO of ClearMatch Medicare, a division of HealthPlanOne. "Typically, these fraudulent schemes present themselves as overly appealing opportunities, promising freebies or unusually low-cost items. It's important to exercise caution when encountering such offers and thoroughly scrutinize these opportunities before taking any action."
In fact, 34% said they’ve been misinformed by a source they trusted and 33% have been victims to a scam in the past.
Seniors have been most susceptible to scams most commonly online (66%) and on the phone (31%), with relation to money (36%), personal information (17%) and health (9%).
And these respondents paid the price — losing an average of $2,700 to scams.
But there are learnings: even more seniors shared that they witnessed a scam on social media that they did not fall victim to (62%), especially related to health and medical care (24%).
They pointed out that these scams included people pretending to be from a financial-based company (38%), offering “free” incentives for personal information (33%) and pretending to be from a healthcare company (22%).
Although they’ve avoided them in the past, one in nine admit they have no idea what to look for in a scam.
"Although everyone is susceptible to scams, no matter the age, seniors tend to be seen as an ‘easy target’ since many don't know the ins-and-outs of the internet,” said Jennifer Girdler, vice president of sales at ClearMatch Medicare. “Don’t be afraid to ask what your information will be used for and seek a second opinion from a trusted loved one before handing over any identifying data.”
This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans 65+ who use social media was commissioned by ClearMatch Medicare between August 2 and August 9, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).