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DO THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA OUTWEIGH THE SECURITY RISKS?
The answer is yes. Chances are you know an older adult who does not engage on social media. Or maybe you avoid it yourself. If that’s the case, consider the benefits and know there are ways to minimize the risks.
This crazy pandemic is especially hard on isolated seniors, and loneliness and depression is all too common. Isolation takes a toll on both health and mental status. It’s up to those who are more computer savvy to encourage others to connect online. A social media account helps bring a part of the outside world into your home. You or your loved one may resist due to concerns about privacy and safety; truthfully, the pros outweigh the cons if you use the account carefully.
My 92 year old cousin, Sandy, is an example of someone who never had much interest in social media. She expressed great concern about privacy issues. Sandy, who lives alone in an apartment in New York City, is in good health both mentally and physically. She no longer drives due to poor eyesight, but happily walks everywhere she needs to go, which keeps her fit. Before Covid19, she interacted with lots of people daily while out and about. However, now she is stuck at home for the most part. She still goes for walks, but the deserted New York streets in her neighborhood provide little opportunity for interaction.
I suggested Sandy set up a Facebook account to break up the monotony of her day. Facebook is free and simple, and connects people to friends, family members, businesses, events and more. Her privacy concerns are valid; cybercrime is no joke and malicious scammers target vulnerable older adults. I explained ways to minimize the risks when she was online.
SOCIAL MEDIA PRIVACY TIPS
Here are ten important tips to help you stay safe online.
Choose your Level of Engagement.
You can choose your level of engagement with a social media account. What you share, if you share at all, is up to you. You may decide you are most comfortable if you simply scroll through posts and updates made by your friends and family. You do not need to add content or actively engage with others.
Keep your personal information to yourself
Do not share information such as your address, date of birth, phone number, driver’s license or social security number under any circumstances.
Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know
Scammers think elderly people are easy targets . When you share or post information, remember others may see it unless your settings specify the post is private. Also, do not engage with strangers who send notes via private messenger; often these notes contain spam.
Do not overshare
Don’t post about a trip while out of town; wait until you return. You don’t want potential burglars to know you are away.
Don’t share your location
Turn off any location information in your settings. Don’t make it easy for people to know where you live (or that you live alone).
Don’t click on deals that sound too good to be true.
Stay alert! If a post sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You know scams and frauds exist, so avoid unrealistic sounding posts.
Ignore friend requests from people you friended already.
These duplicate requests are often viruses or spam.
Do not post photos of your grandchildren without permission from their parents
Talk to your children before you upload pictures of your grandchildren. Make sure you clearly understand their privacy concerns.
Browse through privacy policies
Learn what information the social media platform collects and shares. For example, Facebook may share information collected from you with Instagram. They also may share your personal information with companies who advertise products that match your interests.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Have fun! Enjoy yourself when you read posts on your social media platform. It’s a great way to connect with others in our upside down Covid19 world. But remember, be careful. Stick with people you know and love.
Back to my cousin Sandy…she is now an avid facebook user. She has 15 “friends”, all close family and friends – more than enough to make her feel loved and less alone.