Privacy over popularity + 7 other social media tips for seniors


It’s the holiday season, which means that families will gather, big meals will be eaten and tales will be told around the fireplace — or something like that. Undoubtedly, as you sit around the house the time will come when your aunt or one of your grandparents will ask you about “the Facebook” or some other techie topic that has sparked their interest.

Despite their perceived technological ineptitude, recent research suggests that older Americans are a growing demographic on social media.

Still, a Pew Research study from May 2017 indicates that many of them remain intimidated by new technology. The Pew findings show that 34% of seniors said that they have “no confidence” in their ability to perform online tasks via electronic devices. Nearly half of them — 48% — said that the following statement described them: “When I get a new electronic device, I usually need someone else to set it up or show me how to use it.”

That means that it behooves you to make sure your older relative is being “socially” responsible in every way. With that in mind, here are seven social media tips for seniors.

Here are 7 social media tips for seniors

Control what you want to see & who sees you: Social media sites give users a range of choices on how public they want to be on the respective platforms. Review the privacy settings and choose a selection that you’re most comfortable with. On Twitter, you can choose to “protect” your tweets, meaning only those you allow will be able to see them. On Facebook, you have four privacy options to consider, which are basically as follows:

  • Public ‘ anyone on the internet can see
  • Friends ‘ only your Facebook friends can see
  • Friends With Exceptions ‘ All your Facebook friends, except the ones you’ve excluded or included via customized list
  • Just You ‘ You’re the only one who can see

Don’t be so quick to tag the grandkids: Tagging someone in a picture (or a posting about an event) should only be done when the person is actually in the picture or at the event you’re discussing ‘ and again, don’t overshare information. Make sure the person will be okay with being tagged first.

Find the ‘Help’ pages: One of the first things that new users need to familiarize themselves with are each social media sites’ help pages. Facebook has one. Twitter has a Help Center. And does Pinterest. These pages will tell you where you can find your settings, how to set up your profile and how to control your privacy. Speaking of privacy…

Don’t post people’s whole names: Money expert Clark Howard says it’s especially important not to post personal information, even somebody’s name. Here’s why: “Don’t list too much information about them. It’s even more dangerous with the mom because a lot of the information that criminals need to take over your identity comes from what they know about your parents, especially your mom. The more info you post about you or your family, the easier you make it for a criminal to snoop, grab that information, and before you know it they’re applying for credit as if they’re you, pretending to be you.”

Be selective with your friends list: Just like in the real world, you’ll need to be careful of the company you keep. There are untold numbers of scammers online, so be especially wary of people you befriend that seem to take a personal interest in your whereabouts or personal details. If you get a message from someone who you don’t know, it’s probably best to ignore.

Online etiquette is a thing: Know when to post and when to send via private message. Basically, it will come down to whether the recipient would appreciate that the conversation is blasted to all or just them. It might make sense for a congrats or commendation, but if it’s to admonish someone, it may be best to reach out via message.


Don’t use CAPS LOCK: It may be easier to read but, just like in person, PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO BE YELLED AT ONLINE.

Social media can be an overwhelming experience for new users, no matter their age. If your older relative is a bit coy about posting on the site and just wants to look around a bit, let them know that’s alright, too. The main thing to keep in mind is that like any public forum, security should be their top priority. That means social media is no place to share private data, especially financial information.

Other than that, what’s not to “like?”

RELATED: How to opt out of Facebook’s targeted ads

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