Baby boomers are flocking to social media platforms like Facebook in record numbers with more and more of this demographic taking time to learn about the internet and the best ways to use it.
As social media continues to emerge as the most popular internet resource for seniors, it’s important to learn some social etiquette, best practices and behaviors to avoid when building your online presence.
Pros and cons of senior social media use
|✔ Connect with friends and family around the world||X Accounts with no security settings could lead to identity theft or account takeover|
|✔ Stay up-to-date on news, pop culture and more||X Overuse could lead to social isolation|
|✔ Build new friendships and engage with the community||X Variety of sources can lead to misinformation|
|✔ Browse videos, play games and read articles for entertainment|
|✔ Share information, news and personal thoughts with a personal network|
Social media behaviors seniors should avoid
A misstep on a social media account without the proper privacy settings could lead to some unforeseen security issues if you’re not careful. Take a look at some practices you should avoid as a new social media user.
Don’t reuse passwords
While it may seem tempting to use the same password for all your social accounts, reusing passwords is a little bit like having the same key for your car, home and that special safe under your sink. Once someone has access to one, they have access to all of your accounts. Do your best to create strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts so access to your accounts is not a one size fits all.
Don’t geo-tag when you’re away
When you’re out of the country on vacation, that’s a good time to geo-tag yourself and all your friends, right? Not exactly, and especially not if your security settings aren’t exactly airtight. Letting the wrong people know that you’re away from home and for how long could potentially lead to home security or theft issues. Post all your vacation photos and geo-tag yourself on Facebook after you’ve returned from your vacation as a #ThrowbackThursday or #FlashbackFriday post. This way you’re back at home before unwanted followers know that you’ve even left.
Don’t flaunt new purchases online
Your first instinct may be to tell everyone on Facebook about the brand new car in your garage, but buyer beware. Posting highly valuable items could catch the eye of the wrong user and unknowingly make yourself a target of theft. Once this user has you pegged as a big spender, all they’d have to do is keep an eye for your next geo-tagged vacation post to know when you’ll be away and for how long.
Don’t connect with people you don’t know
New friend requests can be exciting notifications, but be careful when accepting requests from names you don’t recognize. Giving strangers access to your social media accounts can be a good way to invite online threats to the types of sensitive information that live on these platforms. Often, it’s not networking itself that’s the danger, it’s networking carelessly that becomes a problem.
Social media behaviors seniors should adopt
At first, the social media landscape can seem confusing, vast and a little bit dangerous, with so many users and so much information to consume. Luckily, a few rules can help you safely take advantage of any social media platform.
Do use a strong, unique password
Sure, your birthday and pet’s name are easy, but they’re also easy to guess for hackers looking to steal your online identity. Make passwords that are easy for you to remember and difficult for others to guess by stringing together a series of random words. Add any punctuation, numerical or capitalization requirements the site requires after the fact for a unique password that’s hard to forget. i.e. Jumbodogcricket2!
Do set strict privacy settings
Most major social media platforms have privacy and security settings in place to put users in control of who can and cannot access their content. Take full advantage of these settings as they’re often your first and only defense against unwanted viewers. Many of these privacy settings range from high-level settings that stop your account from appearing in search results to low-level settings that allow users to block certain friends from viewing specific posts on their account. Take some time to comb through these settings before you start using your social media account. You’ll find that even parental controls can be helpful when it comes to setting profile and content restrictions.
Do enable “unusual activity” alerts
Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit allow users to opt for text and email notifications of “unusual activity ” alerts. These alerts can let you know of suspicious activity on your accounts whether you’re online or not and give you options to lock down your account in the meantime — similar to when your credit card is stolen.
Do educate everyone in your home
If you have multiple internet users in your home, share some social media best practices with the entire family. This can not only keep online threats off of your social accounts but also off of your home computer. Threats like phishing scams and malware can infiltrate your home network through any user’s account and wreak havoc on the computer in general.
Be sure to share our do’s and don’ts for seniors on social media with friends and family in your online community today.
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