It is no secret that social media has become a huge part of our culture. People of all ages use it to connect with friends and family all over the world. It can be a useful tool, but as with anything, there are pros and cons of social media, and it’s important to understand all aspects.
Older adults can often be a target for online scams, making awareness and social media safety crucial. Origin Active Lifestyle Communities, understands the benefits that social media can provide but is also aware of its dangers. This is why we are sharing tips to help you use social media in a safe, secure way.
Pros vs. Cons of Social Media
As previously mentioned, like anything else, there are pros and cons and social media is no exception. When used safely, social media can benefit us in a number of ways.
Positive Aspects of Social Media
Connect with Friends or Family
One of the most obvious benefits of social media is that it makes it easy to connect with family and friends. It is common for family members to move away from one another geographically, and social media is a useful tool to help bridge that distance. Social media cannot replace face to face contact; however, it can aid in keeping each other up-to-date until your next visit.
When a significant topic or movement is underway, it is posted everywhere on social media. Users join and participate in movements all around the world. Whether it’s local or international news, those who use social media can stay current on these topics and even participate themselves.
People on social media post about anything and everything! Pictures, videos, and articles circulate these platforms making social media a good source for entertainment. Users can interact with and subscribe to specific accounts that publish posts in relevance to what he or she is interested in.
Negative Aspects of Social Media
Feelings of Isolation
“Statistics Canada reports that 1.4 million seniors say they're lonely. But it's not only the elderly. Young people too—teens and twenty-somethings—are experiencing epidemic levels of loneliness (CBC Radio).” While the word “social” is in the name, social media can actually create feelings of isolation. Feelings of “missing out” or not being a part of certain events or activities can make us feel less connected.
“A phishing scam is a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information (Wikipedia).” These types of scams are common on social media as scammers can try to connect on a platform and share links that will attempt to steal a user’s information.
Social Media Safety Tips
“Among senior Internet users, approximately 70% go online every day,” making social media safety a priority. Here are some quick tips to ensure you are being smart on social media.
Create Strong Passwords
Securing accounts and profiles is an essential first step to social media safety. The more complex a password is, the more unlikely that the account can be hacked. Get Cyber Safe recommends that “passwords contain at least eight characters and one symbol.”
Check Your Privacy Settings
Who can view what is on your profile is extremely important. Privacy settings often get overlooked, but these settings protect personal, and sometimes sensitive, information. Take time to carefully select privacy controls that allow only the people you want to see certain information.
Only Engage with People You Know
One of the great things about social media is that it makes it easy to connect with and make new friends; however, it is also easy to hide who you really are on the Internet. Only engage with people you know on social media. This is the best practice to ensure your safety.
Social media is a great way for families, friends, and neighbours to stay connected, but it can be easy to fall victim to a scam. Origin Active Lifestyle Communities, with locations throughout Canada, wants to help our community members stay safe in real life and online.
For more information and tips on living safely and independently, we invite you to visit our blog.