Seniors and older adults are the fastest-growing age demographic on Facebook—with 46% of Americans over 65 on the site. Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with family, reconnect with old friends, and be entertained with videos, recipes, and articles. There are also stimulating games like Words with Friends and chess that enhance cognitive skills.
Franklin Park Senior Living, with retirement communities in San Antonio, Texas, and the surrounding areas, encourages our community members to get online. However, as you’re spending more and more time online, you may face more risks. The Internet is full of people with harmful intent, but with the right knowledge and caution, you can avoid these scams and cons. We want you to stay connected with these simple social media safety tips.
Create Strong, Unique Passwords
Your passwords are the gateway into everything you do online, and it’s crucial to keep this information private. Having a strong password will keep potential hackers out of your social media accounts, where they could impersonate you and ask for money or bank information from your family and friends.
Choose passwords that are a combination of symbols, numbers, and letters, uppercase and lowercase. You want to create a password that you will remember, but that other people won’t guess. While it may be tempting to use your wedding anniversary, opt instead for your daughter’s wedding anniversary or your first grandchild’s birthday.
Another helpful social media safety tip is to create a unique password for every account, including your computer or tablet itself. If you find it hard to remember all of your passwords, write them down in a notebook.
Be Mindful of Online “Friends”
The point of social media is to keep up with people that you know in real life, not strangers. If you don’t recognize someone’s name or photo, it’s best not to accept their friend request. You can never assume that a stranger is trustworthy, even if they claim to know you. The more selective you are about who you connect with on social media, the safer you will be.
Don’t Share Sensitive Information Online
While the Internet has simplified personal tasks like checking your bank account or refilling your prescription, it’s crucial to know when it’s safe to provide this type of sensitive information, and when it can be dangerous.
Secure sites, like your bank or doctor’s office, are trustworthy, but other than that, handing over private information on social media is never a good idea. Often, hackers will impersonate a friend or customer service representative asking for money or bank account information. In these situations, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Be Aware of Common Scams
In addition to refraining from sending money online, it’s also a smart social media safety practice to be familiar with popular scams that hackers use, especially those targeted against older adults. Knowing about these scams will ensure that you’re prepared and equipped, so you don’t fall prey to them. One of the most common types of scams involves the culprit impersonating a friend or family member in an “emergency” situation, asking for money.
There’s even a specific “Grandparent Scam,” which capitalizes on the unconditional love of a grandparent and tricks the loving relative into sending over money for fabricated emergencies and expenses. To avoid this scam, always be vigilant and prudent. If you do receive a message of this nature on Facebook, reach out to your family member offline to make sure that they are alright, and inform them that they’ve been hacked.
Social media is not meant to be a harmful place. It is a great online community that provides easy access to catching up with old friends and classmates or seeing photos of your grandchild’s first day of school. But, as with a lot of things, it can be a dangerous place if you are careless and vulnerable. The first important step to social media safety is realizing that, unfortunately, not everyone online can be trusted, and there are people with ulterior motives. However, with the right foresight and caution, you can be safe online and enjoy being a part of social media!
At Franklin Park Senior Living, one of our top priorities is keeping our residents safe, including online. With retirement communities throughout San Antonio, Texas, and the surrounding areas, Franklin Park is committed to keeping our community members protected, happy, and healthy.
If you or someone you know is interested in touring one of our amazing San Antonio communities, feel free to contact us!