A New (Virtual) Space for Older Adults

Few can resist the urge to instantly check their phone, computer, or tablet when it beeps, alerting them that they have a notification on their favorite social media platform. Whether you spend your time on the platform looking at pictures of your friend’s children or sending a friend a link related to an inside joke, social media provides you with the opportunity to connect with others. The desire to stay connected is of particular importance among older adults, who often experience social isolation and loneliness. Despite their desire to connect, however, widely used social media platforms are tailored to meet the desires of a much younger target audience, forcing older adults to adapt at the risk of being lonely.

To help serve the social networking desires of older adults, Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) (an affiliate of AARP) recently created a social network where older adults can connect with like-minded peers: Senior Planet Community (SPC). SPC can be described as a hybrid of some of the most popular social media platforms. Similar to Reddit’s extensive list of special interest groups, SPC is equipped with pre-established special-interest groups centered around content of interest to older adults, like gardening, traveling, food, fitness, and technology. Like Facebook, users can share photos, receive status notifications, and message others.

As an added benefit, SPC is currently (and will likely stay) non-commercial. Unlike some of SPC’s more popular counterparts, SPC users are not required to view advertisements or pay membership fees. SPC is also more heavily regulated to maintain its status as a “safe space.” It has already established an extensive list of “house rules” requesting users to be courteous to each other, cite their sources, and not stray from discussion topics.

At this time Senior Planet is just starting to grow its usership and still only provides basic social media platform features. Though it doesn’t yet have a mobile app, users can still socialize with others on SPC using a mobile device. As usership grows, however, more features will be added. Those interested in SPC can promote its growth just by joining.


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Tim De Chant – Mar 23, 2022 9:07 pm U. T. C. (2022, March 23). AARP-backed social network looks to lure older users from Facebook. Ars Technica. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2022/03/aarp-backed-social-network-looks-to-lure-older-users-from-facebook/

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