Washington DC: Since its launch in 2004, the landscape of Facebook is constantly changing and now, a recent study suggests that the social networking site might have just got old as more seniors are logging in.
The Penn State researchers said that older adults, who are Facebook's fastest growing demographic, are joining the social network to stay connected and make new connections, just like college kids who joined the site decades ago.
Researcher Eun Hwa Jung said that earlier studies suggested a positive relationship between bonding and bridging social capital and Facebook use among college students, but this study extends this finding to senior citizens.
In the study, the desire to stay connected to family and keep in touch with old friends, social bonding, was the best predictor of Facebook adoption and use, followed closely by the desire to find and communicate with like-minded people, i.e. social bridging. Curiosity is also another motivation for senior Facebook users, Jung added.
Older adults who are motivated by social bonding and curiosity tend to use Facebook as a form of social surveillance, which is the idea that you're checking out what people are up to, said researcher S. Shyam Sundar.
Older adults also tend to use Facebook features that their younger counterparts favour, for example the chatting function and wall posting, according to the researchers.
The researchers suggest that designers of social media sites should emphasize simple and convenient interface tools to attract older adult users and motivate them to stay on the site longer. Seniors in their sample visited Facebook 2.46 times a day and stayed on the site for a little over 35 minutes each day.
"Those who are motivated by social bonding are more likely to use the Like button, which shows the importance of simplicity in interface design for senior citizens," said Sundar. "The Like button is about as simple as you can get."
In 2013, 27 percent of adults aged 65 and older belonged to a social network, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, according to the researchers. Now, the number is 35 percent and is continuing to show an upward trend.
The study appears in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.