Social media has revolutionized our world in more ways than one. If you wanted to stay in touch with someone prior to social media, you either had to write them a letter, call them by phone, or see them face to face. Now, it’s so simple to stay in the know with friends and family by simply checking social media.
Though Facebook has been shown to make people feel more depressed rather than more connected, many seniors enjoy and can benefit from staying in touch with friends and family via social media.
However, just as scammers take advantage of all sorts of technologies to make a quick buck, they are also taking to social media to prey on seniors. Here are a few tips to help your senior parent stay safe on Facebook:
Don’t Friend Strangers
Just because it’s called “friending” doesn’t mean you should feel pressure to accept a friend request from someone you don’t know. It is totally acceptable, and even recommended, to deny a friend request from a stranger. They won’t get a notification that you denied it, and if you don’t know the person requesting, what does it matter?
If you aren’t sure whether you know the person or not, look to see if you have any mutual friends. If you have more than five or so mutual friends with the friend requester, you might be safe to accept the friend request. But it’s best to keep your online presence restricted just to people you know.
Check Your Privacy Settings
In the same vein as not friending strangers, check your privacy settings to make sure that only friends can see your posts. That way, you’re really limiting the number of people who can find out information about you to people you know. For example, if you allow anyone to see your posts, they might find out your grandson’s name and call you impersonating him asking for money for an “emergency.” If you follow through with not friending strangers and keeping your privacy settings restricted, you’ll be much less likely to become prey to a stranger trying to scam seniors.
Set a Strong Password
Using simple passwords is good news for hackers who’d like to get into your account. Hackers can program computers to guess millions of passwords each second, so the simpler or more common the password, the more likely your account will be hacked. Prevent hackers from using your identity for scams and other schemes by using complicated passwords that are hard to guess. If you can’t remember random numbers and letters, use three or four extremely random words in sequence, such as:
You can go to this password generator website for inspiration.
The internet has changed so much about life. When you used to see news on TV, it had been vetted by journalists and news companies who could be held accountable for spreading false information. Now anyone can create “news,” and malicious people have used social media to stir up confusion and unrest simply by posting inflaming and untrue things.
Don’t believe everything you see online, and if you notice that posts on Facebook are starting to upset you or your senior parent, consider unfollowing people who are sharing those types of posts. In addition, simply because social media is online doesn’t mean that rules of civility don’t apply. Social media is not worth your mental health.
As social media has helped new brands rise to the surface, it’s also quite easy to create a fake company to try to lure customers for subpar products or even taking a customer’s money without ever delivering a product. Make sure to shop from reputable companies. If it’s not something you’ve heard of before, google it before purchasing to make sure that it’s not a scam. And never, ever wire money to someone for a product. Any legitimate company will accept credit cards, so use a card to protect your purchases.
New technologies are developed every day, but social media is here to stay. Take a few minutes to talk to your parent about these tips so that they stay safe and sane on the internet. If you’re concerned that your parent is spending too much time online, the Care Professionals at Home Instead® can help your senior loved one get out and about and embrace social connection off the internet.