Social networking sites and older users - a systematic review

Int Psychogeriatr. 2013 Jul;25(7):1041-53. doi: 10.1017/S1041610213000355. Epub 2013 Apr 4.


Background: Social networking sites can be beneficial for senior citizens to promote social participation and to enhance intergenerational communication. Particularly for older adults with impaired mobility, social networking sites can help them to connect with family members and other active social networking users. The aim of this systematic review is to give an overview of existing scientific literature on social networking in older users.

Methods: Computerized databases were searched and 105 articles were identified and screened using exclusion criteria. After exclusion of 87 articles, 18 articles were included, reviewed, classified, and the key findings were extracted. Common findings are identified and critically discussed and possible future research directions are outlined.

Results: The main benefit of using social networking sites for older adults is to enter in an intergenerational communication with younger family members (children and grandchildren) that is appreciated by both sides. Identified barriers are privacy concerns, technical difficulties and the fact that current Web design does not take the needs of older users into account.

Conclusions: Under the conditions that these problems are carefully addressed, social networking sites have the potential to support today's and tomorrow's communication between older and younger family members.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Networking*
  • Social Participation