Older adults who post more pictures on Facebook may feel more competent and that may lead to significantly higher levels of well-being in general, a new study suggests.
The findings, published in the journal Health Communication, indicate that certain Facebook activities are linked to feelings of competence, relatedness, and autonomy.
“What it may boil down to is that older adults might want to reduce their overall use of the platform, but still engage more in those specific Facebook activities that can enhance their sense of competence, like posting photos,” said researcher S. Shyam Sundar, Professor at Pennsylvania State University in the US.
According to the team, commenting more frequently and receiving more responses to posts — also called message contingency — tended to improve feelings of relatedness and connection with others on Facebook.
However, the researchers also found that overall Facebook use was linked to lower well-being among older adults.
“Much of the social media research out there focuses on younger people because they tend to be the main users of the technology, but older adults are also becoming more used to technology and are using social media more,” said Eun Hwa Jung, Assistant Professor at Kookmin University in South Korea.
For the study, the researchers conducted both content analysis and an online survey of about 202 Facebook users who were more than 60 years old.
Content analysis is a rigorous study of pieces of media, such as text or videos.
To do that, researchers assembled data about the content posted by study participants, who all agreed to allow them to carefully record their activity on the social media site during the one-year study period.
The participants also filled out an online survey that measured psychological feelings, such as subjective well-being, enjoyment, and autonomy.