I recently attended a Facebook demonstration class at a local senior center. The 25 attendees were curious and eager. “I feel like I’m missing out,” stated one participant. “I just want to understand it.”
But as we got into the details of friending, posting, messaging, etc., I heard grumblings of dissent. And those grumblings had to do with the safety of social networking.
Online privacy and safety concerns are often the biggest barrier to older adults using social networking. Unfortunately, there are risks associated with social networking, and sadly, scammers often target seniors. But there are also plenty of resources for educating ourselves about how to stay safe while enjoying the social aspects of online networking.
Managing your presence on Facebook is challenging because the settings always change. And the default settings are not automatically the most private and secure settings. While it’s tempting to accept that offer from a family member or friend to set up your Facebook account, don’t do it unless you are willing to learn how Facebook’s privacy settings work.
Believe it or not, Facebook offers a step-by-step Privacy Basics tutorial to help you understand how and what you control when using their social networking platform. You can read through the guide prior to setting up an account or use the tutorial to make changes to your existing account. You can also read their Data Policy on exactly what information they collect as well as how they use and share it.
Stay Safe on All Social Networks
The National Cyber Security Alliance is a nonprofit public-private partnership that promotes the safe and secure use of the Internet and digital privacy. The partnership includes the Department of Homeland Security, private sector sponsors and nonprofit collaborators. The NCSA’s website, www.staysafeonline.org has a wealth of information about online safety in general as well as great tips for staying safe while enjoying social networking.
If you take the time to learn and practice good online safety habits, social networking can be a safe, secure and fun way to connect with friends and family online.