Busting Ageist Myths One TikTok at a Time

Staying relevant and engaged with the greater community is an important factor in aging successfully and finding purpose and meaning later in life.  But when much of the in-person world shut down during the pandemic, many seniors who were accustomed to socializing face-to-face had to quickly catch up with technology to stay connected with friends and family, and discover new ways to learn, unwind, and keep informed.  TikTok – the short-form, video-sharing app popular among young people surprisingly caught on quickly with older adults who used the platform to show the world a glimpse of their own lives.

According to an article in The Conversation, recent research from the University of Singapore found that many older people are using TikTok to break ageist stereotypes and show the world their abilities, and in doing so bust myths that imply seniors can’t use technology, are incompetent, weak or out of touch.  

Although TikTok’s audience is comprised largely of users under the age of 24, a growing number (about 14.5 percent) are over the age of 50.  A wider range of creators gives younger people the chance to see older adults in a new light, helping to fight stereotypes.  Older adults also have a new opportunity to connect with people of all ages.  Older content creators are gathering thousands of followers; sharing their dance moves, cooking talents, and often some sage advice.  With a growing audience, many seniors are experiencing a greater sense of self-esteem and value within society.

Seeing more older faces on social media platforms like TikTok helps show the world that many common stereotypes about elderly people are misplaced.  Seniors are able to demonstrate their vibrant personal style, talents, and humor.  The diversity of older adults is as great as among younger people, and TikTok has become a valuable tool in changing attitudes and perceptions around aging. 

Learn more about how TikTok is helping to change society’s stereotypes about aging by following this link to a recent research paper, Not Too Old for TikTok:  How Older Adults are Reframing Aging, published in The Gerontologist.  Need a rainy-day distraction?  Check out cookingwithlynja on TikTok – with 11.1 million followers, her “killer cooking skills” must be as entertaining as educational.