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BEACON Senior News

Social Media 101

Jan 02, 2024 10:22AM ● By Kimberly Blaker

Now, more than ever, it’s possible to feel like part of your family and friends’ lives even when you’re apart. Social media and apps make it easy to stay connected right from your personal computer, laptop, tablet or phone. Yet, because there are so many social platforms and apps, it might feel confusing to keep track of what you can do with each and how they work. The following basics should help you get started.


Apps (applications) are software programs that can be downloaded to your digital devices. 

They’re typically found in an application store specific to your device, such as the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play Store for Android and Google devices or the Windows Store for Windows devices. To explore or manage your apps, simply click on the designated app store for your device, where you can download both free and paid applications or review those already installed.

Whether you’re into games like the New York Times Crossword or Words With Friends; social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, X and TikTok; reading apps such as Kindle and Libby; or engaging in video streaming with Netflix and Hulu; there’s an app for practically everything. Additionally, apps related to shopping, like Amazon and Target, are readily available.

Apps are organized in app stores by category, so it’s easy to discover something new! You can also search by most popular, name or type of apps.


Facebook can be accessed via app or internet browser ( Facebook offers multiple avenues for users to engage with one another.

Posting and Interacting: Users post messages on each other’s walls, and use response buttons like "like," "love," "laugh" and "care" emojis, as well as through comments and sharing. Users you accept as “friends” can see your posts and you can see theirs. Each user has their main page displaying their profile picture, personal information and a timeline of photos, links, videos, reels (short videos) or posts they’ve shared.

Following Pages: Users can follow pages related to celebrities, TV shows, movies, towns, restaurants, companies, non-profits, social causes and more. This allows them to receive updates and news from these entities.

Groups: Many users join groups that align with their interests or location. Examples include groups for pet lovers, classified ads, local community boards and groups for hiking enthusiasts.

Facebook Messenger: With Facebook Messenger, you can send private, direct messages to those on your friends list (it’s sort of like texting). There’s also Facebook Messenger Kids for children under 13 who can message guardian-approved people under a guardian’s account.


Instagram is a social media platform centered around sharing pictures and videos. Users have the ability to post photos and videos to their account pages and send direct messages (DMs) to their friends or “followers.” 

You can also comment on posts, “like” them by tapping the heart underneath or share them to your “story,” a feature that lets users share temporary posts for up to 24 hours. Stories are visible through small circle profile pictures at the top of the home screen or user pages. 

Besides individuals, many companies and organizations use Instagram to reach users, sell products or share information. 


On X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter, users can post short messages up to 280 characters or write longer posts with its premium plan.

Users can post links, videos or pictures, and repost other users’ content.

You can “follow” people you know, celebrities, companies and organizations to see their posts and updates. You can also see the timelines of other users or post to your own timeline for your followers to see. 

Users often add specific hashtags so that people can find their post when searching for similar content. With the explore feature, you can look up hashtags or particular words and what’s trending (top hashtags or popular phrases at the time).


TikTok’s emphasis on short, engaging videos, coupled with its user-friendly editing tools, has led to its widespread popularity. 

TikTok is a short-form video platform that allows users to create content in the form of 15-second to 3-minute videos and share them with their followers. Users have the ability to edit videos with short clips, apply filters for visual effects and incorporate audio elements from other users or songs.

Users have the option to explore content created by others by searching hashtags (searchable phrases preceded by a # sign) or by browsing the “For You” page.


Blogs are basically web pages managed by one or more individuals who aim to share information on a specific topic, often written in an informal way. Writings may include pictures, videos, recipes or links to other pages or products.  

Accessible to anyone, blogs can be discovered through web searches or recommendations. Authors often encourage visitors to leave comments at the bottom of their posts, follow the blog site for updates or sign up for email lists.