Social networks are no longer a playground for only young people.
After dinner, Thien, 36, from Hanoi, was surfing Facebook while watching news on television when he suddenly got a Facebook text from a strange account “Gai Dat To” (Girl from Phu Tho). Clicking the text, he read “making friend with me, please”.
He texted back: “Excuse me, who is it?” “It’s me, your niece Binh. This is grandmum’s Facebook. Perhaps she just sent a bunch of messages to everyone to make friends. I’m teaching her to play with Facebook and Tiktok.”
That was first day Thien became a Facebook friend with his mother-in-law. After that, funny stories happened to Thien that were related to his mother-in-law’s Facebook.
Eager and vulnerable
According to “Internet Trends 2021” published in March 2021, the world has about 1.83 billion websites, of which the fastest growing segment is the number of mobile social network users. By region, Asia accounted for nearly half of global Internet users (as of January 2021, more than 4.8 billion people worldwide had Internet access). In Vietnam, according to the We Are Social organization’s statistics in 2019, the group of social network users such as Facebook and Zalo aged 45 and above saw the highest growth rate, up to 60% per year.
It is clear that social networks are no longer a playground for young people. With a smartphone and Internet connection, older people anywhere can enter the world of social networks, which are no longer the “privilege” of city dwellers as before.
“Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the elderly and children have more time to go online and that is also the hobby of these two groups of people. But the elderly and children are also two vulnerable subjects when participating in social networks in particular, and using the Internet in general. Flooded with information that is difficult to verify on social networks, inappropriate video clips on YouTube, the elderly or children easily fall into a matrix of information and malicious videos if they are caught up in trends, and even can… be disoriented,” said Dr. Trinh Thanh Huong, of the Institute of Mental Health of Bach Mai Hospital.
The number of older people accessing the internet to read news, watch YouTube and play Facebook is increasing. Many older people are addicted to online shopping, Facebook and virtual life, reading fake news or superstitious stories.
From a psychological perspective, Dr. Trinh Thanh Huong said that it is realistic for seniors to go online with the same eagerness as children. Many of them had a difficult childhood without a good education, and after marrying they struggled to earn a living to take care of their children, so when they are old, the information about virtual life may be bewildering.
“They can access information but it’s difficult to verify the authenticity. If their children tell them that it’s fake news, then they say ‘it’s written on the internet’, ‘I see artists advertising that drug so I bought it’,” said Dr. Huong.
From the perspective of State management agencies, the authorities should create policies to protect the elderly in cyberspace, helping them to have a useful playground.
On the family side, young people need to understand and be friends with their parents not only in real life but also on the internet in order to share and introduce good Facebook pages and YouTube channels, and informative and useful articles for their parents.
According to a study by the United Nations Population Fund, 80% of the population after retirement want to find jobs.
The rate of elderly living with their children and grandchildren is decreasing, while the rate of people living alone or living with their husband or wife is gradually increasing.