Home Instead Senior Care estimates that 60% percent of individuals over the age of 65 have access to the internet, and many are venturing into the world of Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Skype and beyond. Social Media is a fantastic resource for seniors to keep in touch with family and friends, read the latest news or connect with those who share similar interests.
However, while this exciting new landscape provides a variety of opportunities, continuous updates and the integration of new features may cause some seniors to become overwhelmed.
Stannah has 8 tips to help seniors safely use social media.
Keep it Private
Seniors should avoid oversharing personal information on their social media pages. This includes announcing upcoming vacations or posting daily updates while away. Advertising your absence can be an open invitation to burglars and you should wait until you’ve returned before showcasing all the beautiful photos and videos you took.
Many popular services have settings to control who sees your content. For example, Facebook provides you with the option to limit post visibility to small customized groups such as family members or close friends.
Facebook’s resource center, which can be found here , has more detailed information and easy-to-follow directions for changing these settings.
Bulk Up your Password
According to the Huffington Post, many individuals use personal information to create their passwords, such as a favorite sports team, children’s names or birthdays. Simple passwords like this can compromise internet security for the elderly.
A strong password should have more than eight characters, and involve letters, numbers and punctuation. This combination should include both uppercase and lowercase letters and not form a word that can be found in the dictionary.
Seniors should use a different password for their social media accounts than the one used for online banking or any other important websites.
For tips on creating a stronger password, check out this helpful guide from Senior Planet.
One of the biggest obstacles preventing the elderly from creating a complicated password is the fear of forgetting it. Don’t worry! – It is OK to write down passwords, just be sure the paper is hidden somewhere safe and not in plain sight by your computer.
Trust your Instinct
When using the internet, seniors have generally been advised to only converse with individuals they know personally. However, social media excels as a hub for connecting people with similar interests, and interactions with “strangers” are more common than ever before.
With the availability of unique online “Garage Sale” marketplaces and other special interest forums, meeting up with someone you met on the internet no longer carries the stigma it once did. However, seniors should inform a friend or relative about any potential encounters and avoid going alone when possible.
Furthermore, social media is not exempt from the scams and fraudulent activity that have littered websites and email chains since the dawn of the internet. SeniorNet advises seniors to only click links from credible sources. When in doubt, contact the individual through another medium to verify the legitimacy of the link.
If you are redirected to a login page, particularly if it’s one for the website you are already on, Senior Care Corner advises you to close out immediately – as logging in again may lead to data phishing.
Understand Social Media Etiquette
Etiquette is an essential part of the social media experience. Some individuals may share different thoughts about the type of content they see as appropriate to post or view online. While sharing a cute toddler photo of your teenage granddaughter may seem silly and innocent to you, it is best to ask permission first before posting something private about another person.
Keep Calm and Post On
Social media provides seniors a unique platform to share their thoughts and feelings. This may sometimes spark a spirited debate, especially if it involves current events. It is OK, and even encouraged, to engage in this discussion, but remember to do so in a civil manner and be respectful of others’ opinions. Avoid overly critical messages, unnecessary insults or inappropriate content.
Don’t Let Ads Engulf You
Social media has developed into a major outlet for advertisers. These companies take full advantage of their ability to market directly to consumers.
ConnectSafely encourages seniors to only purchase items from reputable online merchants. If you are unfamiliar with a particular company, you can verify its legitimacy with a quick internet search. Look for merchants with a variety of reviews and links from different sources.
Trustworthy retailers will generally use secure websites. These pages will have “HTTPS” in front of their name in the address bar at the top of the page, with the “S” representing “secure” (you’ll notice the Stannah-Stairlifts.com URL at the top has this). Depending on your browser, there may also be a “padlock” icon. If possible, seniors should avoid making purchases through websites that only show “HTTP.”
Some stores may also promote a product that is completely different, and of higher quality, than what they eventually provide. You can check out some examples here. Once again, user reviews are a great resource for narrowing down the possibility of these scenarios.
If it’s too good to be true, it usually is. While legitimate free shipping or discount promotions are commonly touted across social media, it is best to avoid websites offering an unbelievably cheap vacation or a free product that normally costs $100s.
Remember it’s Permanent
Seniors should always have the mindset that everything put on their social networking site, or the internet in general, is permanent. While accounts can be deleted, anyone can easily print or save text, screenshots, photos or videos to their own computer.
Call the Grandkids
Millennials have watched the social media era blossom right in front of their eyes. For many of these individuals, this type of interaction is second-nature and an integral part of their lives (albeit, maybe a little TOO much at times). Last tip is that seniors should enlist help from their children or grandchildren when learning to properly use social media. If you have any questions, be sure to ask them first before proceeding.
Now that you are a social media pro, make sure to connect with Stannah on our Facebook page if you haven’t done so already. This page is the easiest way to stay involved and discover useful information and resources designed to help seniors maintain independence and remain in the home they love.