Older users could be a significant resource to help drive the growth of Facebook.
Washington: Older adults are drawn to Facebook so that they can check out pictures and updates from family and friends, but are wary about who is viewing their posts, researchers including one of Indian origin have found.
The study recruited 46 participants who were between 65 and 95 years old to take part in in-depth interviews. The participants listed keeping in touch, monitoring other's updates and sharing photos as main reasons for using Facebook.
However, other seniors listed privacy, as well as the triviality of some posts, as reasons they stay away from the site. "The biggest concern is privacy and it is not about revealing too much, it is that they assume that too many random people out there can get their hands on their information," said S Shyam Sundar, professor at Pennsylvania State University in the US.
"Control is really what privacy is all about. It is about the degree to which you feel that you have control over how your information is shared or circulated," said Sundar.
The researchers said that Facebook developers should focus on privacy settings to tap into the senior market. "Clear privacy control tools are needed to promote older adults' Facebook use," said Eun Hwa Jung, assistant professor at National University of Singapore. "In particular, we think that privacy settings and alerts need to be highly visible, especially when they (older adults) are sharing information," Jung said.
While older adults are leery about who is viewing their posts, they enjoy using the site to look at pictures and read posts from friends and family, according to the researchers.
Sundar said that, in fact, many participants mentioned the triviality of the conversation that kept them from using Facebook. "They believe that people reporting on the mundane and unremarkable things that they did - brushing their teeth, or what they had for lunch - is not worth talking about," said Sundar.
Older users could be a significant resource to help drive the growth of Facebook and other social media sites, Sundar said. "The 55-plus folks were slow initially in adopting social media, but now they are one of the largest growing sectors for social media adoption," he said.
The researchers suggest that Facebook is helping to serve as a communications bridge between the generations and that young people are prompting their older family members to join the site.
The findings were published in the journal Telematics and Informatics.