Social media for seniors is experiencing explosive growth. According to the PEW Research Center, the numbers of Millennials (ages 18-34 at the time of the study) still surpass those of seniors online, but seniors are gaining fast. A big online trend is seniors joining social media. In fact, the demographic that’s adopting social media in the greatest numbers is the 74+ age bracket. If you haven’t explored social media yet, we’ll walk you through eight tips to help you get started. Soon, you’ll be a pro at making new friends online.
- Choose Your Social Media Sites
AARP houses a wonderful social media for seniors training center. You’ll not only learn about the top social networks, you’ll also learn how to use them to the fullest with step-by-step guides.
- Set Up a Secondary Email
Set up a secondary email account at Google or Outlook to use solely for social media. Guard your primary email address, and use it only for communications with family and friends and for paying bills.
- Read the Terms of Service
When you join a social media site, you must agree to their “Terms of Service” (TOS) or “End-User License Agreement” (EULA). It explains which information they collect and how they use it. This can range from (we’re paraphrasing here) “we collect minimal information, and what you post is yours and yours alone” at Sgrouples to “we collect everything we can and use it however we like” at Facebook. Most EULAs lie somewhere in between.
- Set Up Your Profile
Until you’re comfortable with a site, provide as little information as possible. At a minimum, you’ll have to fill out your online name (you can use a cute phrase or your initials and a number), a password, and your name. Some sites require more information. You can fill in optional fields later. Somewhere in the profile area, you’ll find an option to let advertisers contact you. You probably want to deselect that option. Some networks are sneaky, and they occasionally turn on the advertising option. That’s the reason you set up a secondary email account.
- Select Friends Carefully
People will send you invitations to “friend” them or to “follow” them. You are not obligated to friend or follow people even if they friend or follow you. Unless you know them or want to follow their posts, there’s no need to accept the invitation.
- Watch What You Say Online
If you don’t want it on the six o’clock news, you shouldn’t say it online. What you post on most social media sites may be searchable through Internet search sites. Still, social media for seniors is safe — or as safe as being out in public. Seniornet.org reminds seniors that everything on the Internet is permanent.
- Guard Your Email Address Book
Some social network sites will ask for permission to download your email address book to let your friends and acquaintances know that you’ve joined the site. In a word, “No.” You can choose to let your friends know about your online life.
- Have Fun
Once you work through the action items in the first four tips, get out there and have some fun. Explore the nooks and crannies of the networks. Make new friends and reconnect with old friends. Soon, you’ll rule on the social media for seniors circuit! See you on the Internet.
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