Technology was once something that seniors were fearful of and therefore hesitant to use. As the years pass, this becomes less and less of a reality. Senior citizens are flocking to social media as a way to keep in touch with family and to improve brain function. In fact, a UCLA study shows that simply using a web browser increased activity “in the frontal, temporal and cingulate areas of the brain, which control decision-making and complex reasoning.” However, seniors may not be aware of the dangers of the internet. Learning proper social media safety for seniors is a key to avoiding identity theft or becoming a victim of a financial scam. True Link Financial found that seniors lose around $13 billion a year via financial scams. If you are a senior looking to increase your online safety, follow these tips.

Tips For Increased Online Safety

  • Use strong passwords. For every website you log into, you should be using a unique, strong password. A strong password is 12 or more characters using a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and special characters (such as @, #, $, %). Remembering strong passwords for numerous websites is extremely difficult, so we recommend using a password manager to store them for easy, secure use.
  • Employ two-factor authentication if possible. A strong password helps keep your information safe, but it may not be enough. Two-factor authentication adds another level of protection which will increase your security exponentially.
  • Only click on things you know are safe. There are many scams online which are targeted at seniors. Many of these will tug at your heartstrings or appeal to your desires to be as healthy as possible. Unless you are 100% sure of the validity and safety of these links, it’s best not to click. Also, if you receive a mysterious e-mail or private message from a “family member” or someone in need, do some research before sending any money or clicking any links. Try to contact this family member another way or contact someone close to them. In order to stay safe, you must always assume that things aren’t exactly as they seem.
  • Use the highest privacy settings possible. When you post things online, we recommend that you only allow them to be seen by people you know and trust seeing your personal information. You can set your privacy settings to ensure that no outsiders can spy on your posts (and possibly use that information for nefarious purposes). 
  • Only accept friend requests from people you know. Most people would love to have as many real-life friends as possible. Well, real life is different from online life. If you have a social media account, you will inevitably receive friend requests from spam accounts. Many of these accounts are set up to try and scam you for one reason or another. Some of these accounts may even share a name or photo of someone you recognize. Take a look at their account before accepting a friend request (but never click any links on their page). If something doesn’t seem right about the profile, deny the friend request. You aren’t being impolite; you are looking out for your safety.

 The internet can be a great tool for seniors. It can be a great way to stay connected and to keep your brain functioning to the best of its ability. However, it can also be a place where you can be taken advantage of. That’s why learning social media safety for seniors is so important. Use the tips provided above and your time on the internet will be a lot safer.