Older generations can benefit greatly from being online and utilizing social media platforms. But because of its fast nature – between how quickly it keeps evolving and how savvy one needs to be to keep up with those changes – technology can seem incredibly overwhelming. Oftentimes, it can leave new users frustrated or feeling indifferent about adapting to the changing times. This is especially true for any seniors reaching retirement age who did not grow up in an online world.
It is likely that you know a few of the basics such as getting familiar with a computer or smartphone, accessing the internet, or using email. However, there’s much more to learn. For any senior hoping to become more well-versed in online and social media use, here are a few pointers to help.
What to know about social media
Social media is a tool that might be new to residents living in a senior independent living community. Powered through the internet, social media platforms are websites where you can engage and connect with other people. Some of the most recognizable platforms today are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Here, users can share articles they’ve read online, store photos of friends and family, play games and chat with friends and family. Social media platforms can be accessed from any web browser on smartphones, computers, laptops and tablets and most are free for basic use.
Social media platforms are a great way to stay social in times when reaching out in person isn’t possible. Stay-at-home mandates due to COVID-19 have pushed many people to use social media and the internet more often to connect with friends and family. Through smartphone programs like FaceTime or online video chat services like Skype, loved ones from near and far are able to quickly connect with senior independent living community residents like those at Country Meadows. Thanks to platforms like Facebook and Instagram, seniors are able to chat with and connect with friends and family with ease in addition while learning new social media skills.
Privacy is often a hot topic issue for many seniors using the internet and social media platforms. Between personal photos and information, there is an opportunity for information to be seen by unwanted eyes. There are, however, several easy ways to make sure social media profiles are as safe as possible. First and foremost, users can set their accounts to private through profile settings. This way, only those chosen or accepted as friends or connections can view information within a user’s profile. Every platform is different, but many allow users to further restrict privacy settings so that only certain people can see specific portions of a profile even when they are an approved connection. For a breakdown of how to manage privacy settings on different social media platforms, use this guide.
How to spot a scam
One of the best lessons for seniors using social media and other online tools is learning how to recognize a scam. These can come in the form of posts that are shared by a friend, links designed to look like a news article or even a private message. A few of the most popular scams aimed at older adults focus on topics such as healthcare, high return investments and special offers. Medical services or announcements of vaccines should be vetted thoroughly before any personal information, even as seemingly insignificant as an email address to learn more, is given. If an offer sounds worthwhile do a little research or call a trusted friend or family member to confirm its validity.
While social media can be a place to read news articles and receive valid information, especially during the current pandemic, it is also just as easy to share false information aimed at tricking users into providing sensitive information.