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Social networking sites and older users – a systematic review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 April 2013

Tobias Nef
Gerontechnology and Rehabilitation Group, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland CCLM–Center for Cognition, Learning, and Memory, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Raluca L. Ganea
Gerontechnology and Rehabilitation Group, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
René M. Müri
Gerontechnology and Rehabilitation Group, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland CCLM–Center for Cognition, Learning, and Memory, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland Division of Cognitive and Restorative Neurology, Department of Neurology, University Hospital Inselspital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Urs P. Mosimann*
Gerontechnology and Rehabilitation Group, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland CCLM–Center for Cognition, Learning, and Memory, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland Department of Old Age Psychiatry, University Hospital of Psychiatry, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Correspondence should be addressed to: Urs P. Mosimann, M.D., Ph.D., Professor for Old Age Psychiatry, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Gerontechnology and Rehabilitation Group, University of Bern, Murtenstrasse 21, 3010 Bern, Switzerland. Phone: +41 31 632 88 17; Fax: +41 31 632 89 44. Email:


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.

Review Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2013 

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