IN YOUR PRIME: What seniors should know about social media safety

Seniors are engaging with social media more than ever. Such engagement requires seniors to be mindful of the many ways to protect their privacy when spending time online.

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Seniors are engaging with social media more than ever. Such engagement requires seniors to be mindful of the many ways to protect their privacy when spending time online.

Seniors might not be the demographic individuals initially associate with social media. However, Pew Research notes that seniors’ social media usage has been steadily rising for a number of years, proving that individuals 65 and over are not tech-averse.

Pew data from 2019 indicates that 46 percent of individuals 65 and older use Facebook. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be a great way to stay connected with family and friends and stay up-to-date on community events. But social media usage is not without risks, especially in regard to users’ safety. Seniors without much social media experience can heed these safety tips as they navigate popular platforms and discover all they have to offer.

Examine your account settings. Social media users can control their privacy settings so they can decide who can (and can’t) view their online activity. Each platform is different, but profiles set to public generally allow anyone to view individuals’ activity, so seniors should set their profiles to private to limit access to their information.

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Be mindful of your social media social circle. It’s easy to make virtual friends via social media, but seniors should be mindful of who they accept as online friends. Carefully consider each friend request and decide just how big or small you want your social media community to be. Many individuals prefer to limit their online social circles to individuals they know well and want to stay in touch with, and that can serve as a good measuring stick when deciding whether or not to accept a friend request.

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Avoid sharing personal information. Seniors are no doubt aware that they should never share especially personal information, such as their Social Security number. However, seniors also should hesitate to share personal information like vacation plans. Seniors who post about upcoming trips could return home to find they’ve been victimized by criminals who scoured their social media accounts and learned when they were going to be away. A good rule of thumb is to keep personal information private and limit posts to information that is not overly specific or sensitive.

Recognize the threat posed by scammers. Social media platforms have had varying degrees of success in regard to keeping their sites scam-free. But scammers find a way, and users must take steps to avoid being victimized. Never click on a link within a post from someone you don’t know and avoid anyone soliciting donations through social media platforms.

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