TikTok and older adults

Hand holding a smartphone with the TikTok icon.

New research shows older adults are reframing ageing with TikTok.

TikTok has a reputation for being the playground of teenagers and younger adults. However, older adults are having fun with it too.

Compared to Facebook and Twitter, TikTok videos create opportunities for older adults to be influencers across all age groups. A new study from Singapore found that TikTok had both positive and negative aspects for older adults.

In trying to show that “oldies” can be “with it” they make fun of their conditions. But joking about one’s limitations brought about by the ageing process does little to dispel negative stereotypes. Negative stereotypes have an impact on how older adults feel about themselves as they grow older. So it’s not just how other people view them.

These feelings impact health and wellbeing and sense of self. However, the study showed such jokes are outnumbered by videos of older people defying stereotypes and embracing their ageing bodies.

An older woman with white hair and dressed in bright yellow and wearing sunglasses is singing into a microphone enthusiatically on TikTok.

Older adults are challenging stereotypes on TikTok.

The title of the article is, Not Too Old for TikTok: How Older Adults are Reframing Aging. The researchers compiled the most viewed videos of users aged 60 years and older with at least 100,000 followers. From a base of 1382 videos, they found 348 that had ageing content and these were used for analysis.

Three themes on ageing

Three themes emerged from the videos. Most fell under the theme of defying age stereotypes (71%). These videos were about embracing their ageing bodies. Making light of age-related vulnerabilities was present in 18% of the uploads. These videos joked about age stereotypes about such things as dementia. Calling out ageism (11%) revolved around older people condemning ageist practices.

The authors recommend encouraging older adults to create their own social media content. This is one way to counter some of the negative stereotypes about older people being technophobes. It will also encourage them to share the experiences of later life and become more active in age-based advocacy.

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