The Importance of Intergenerational Socialization
In today’s American society, the older and younger generations are often portrayed by the media as two contrasting generations at opposite ends of a spectrum. While it’s true that the groups are experiencing different stages of life, that doesn’t necessarily render them incompatible. In fact, intergenerational socialization can be highly beneficial.
Benefits for Seniors
- It provides seniors with companionship. By socializing with younger members of the community, seniors, who may not have family nearby, are provided with friendship and companionship.
- It gives seniors a sense of purpose. Mentoring a young person can give seniors a sense of pride and purpose in their later years.
- It can prevent health issues like dementia. Studies like this one have shown that socializing can help seniors decrease their risk of dementia. Intergenerational socialization keeps seniors mentally sharp.
- It allows seniors the space to become digitally literate. The younger generations of digital natives (people who’ve been brought up during the age of digital technology and are therefore familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age) can share this knowledge with seniors.
Benefits for Youth
- It helps to broaden their mindset. Not only will young people be able to hear about history in a context other than the classroom, broadening their worldview, but also the advice given to them by seniors can help them step outside their immediate situation and look at their problems from a new angle.
- It gives them a newfound appreciation for what they have. Hearing from people who grew up during the Great Depression or one of the two world wars will engender a sense of gratitude.
- It gives them positive role models. Oftentimes, teenagers are reluctant to listen to their parents’ advice, but forming friendships with seniors provides another way for older people to have a positive impact on teens’ lives.¹
Intergenerational socialization is beneficial for both seniors and young people. If you’re wondering how to implement this in your community, check out this spotlight of one of our communities, Ingleside, which was featured on the TODAY show for their intergenerational socialization program.