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Staying safe online: Social media tips for older adults

16th July 2018

More of the older generation are signing up for social media accounts and whilst there are lots of benefits of having a profile online it is important that older people are staying safe.

Older people with mobility problems that need to use stair lifts and struggle to get out of the house can keep in touch with friends and family members that are near and far through their social media accounts. As seniors are more prone to loneliness this really helps to stave off any feelings that they are alone.

Before we start looking at the ways older people can stay safe on social media, it is important to look at the different types of social media. Here we take you through some of the most popular sites:

  • Facebook – The largest social networking site in the world and one of the most widely used. It allows older people to keep in touch with friends and relatives.
  • Twitter – This social networking site lets users share short posts (tweets) to the world. People can now even shop directly through tweets.
  • LinkedIn – The most popular professional social channel as it is used by professionals from different businesses all over the world. It currently has over 400 million users.
  • WhatsApp – This instant messaging mobile app allows users to communicate and share things instantly and there is a WhatsApp call functionality as well.
  • Instagram – This social site was set-up to share photos and videos and allows users to capture amazing moments in your life.
  • Snapchat – This image messaging social platform enables people to chat with friends by using photos. The app even allows people to explore news and check out live stories.
  • YouTube – The world’s largest video-sharing social networking site allows users to upload and share videos, like them and comment on them.
  • Tumblr – This social media cum microblogging platform is used to find and follow things. From posting about things to writing a short-form blog, Tumblr is used by more than 550 million people.
  • Google+ - This social networking site allows people to stay in touch with people by sharing messages, photos and videos as well as highlighting useful links to other sites.
  • Skype – Used by more than 300 million people across the globe, this communication-based network allows people to connect with each other via voice calls, video calls and text messages.

Despite the clear benefits of being on social media, it is important that older people keep their personal information private by following these essential tips to stay safe.

Staying safe online

What the experts say

As the above infographic shows there are lots of dos and don’ts when it comes to staying safe on social media and here some experts add why these safety tips are important to follow.

According to Mitchell Ashley at Network World users of social networks shouldn’t share too much information.

“So, let's start with the obvious … never share your birth date, home address or home phone number (although sharing your business phone is ok). Of course, you should protect all of your passwords, PIN numbers, bank account and credit card information.”

The Official Senior Net Headquarters things one of the most important ways to stay safe is knowing what people have posted about themselves.

“A common way that hackers break into financial or other accounts is by clicking the ‘Forgot your password?’ link on the account login page. To break into your account, they search for the answers to your security questions, such as your birthday, hometown, high school class, father’s middle name, on your social networking site. If the site allows, make up your own password questions, and don’t draw them from material anyone could find with a quick search.”

Another important step for older people to take when using social media sites is to limit details about work history.

Emma Kavanagh from Norton Security Online, adds, “On some social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, people are able to post resumes and other information that pertains to their work history. Work related information can reveal too much about a person's personal life and can give criminals such as hackers personal information which may help them to hack into one's account. The information that is found on resumes can also be used in identity theft.”

When it comes to passwords, Connect Safely, recommends for older people to use long passwords.

“At least eight characters — and include numbers, upper and lowercase letters and symbols; avoid using names or dictionary words. At ConnectSafely.org/passwords, you’ll find tips and information on how to use multi-factor authentication and fingerprint recognition for more advanced security.”

By following these tips older people can enjoy all the benefits of social media safely and without the worry of online dangers effecting their browsing.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.