Social Media Guide for Seniors

February 5th, 2014

Updated April 2021

Social media is a great way to connect with friends and others with shared interests. It’s also a helpful tool to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Follow this advice and soon you’ll be a pro at connecting online.

1. Choose Your Social Media Sites

With so many social sites to choose from, shop around to find the ones that meet your needs the best. For instance, if you’re a crafter, you might enjoy Pinterest. Like Pinterest, Instagram is image-focused and easy to curate. TikTok is full of short videos featuring dance challenges and how-tos. Facebook is also a great way to keep up with family and friends. Want to stay connected to the business world? LinkedIn is your destination. Talk to your community about the social channels they recommend.

2. Understand 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).  These explain what information a social media site collects from you and how they use it, including your photos. Many of these agreements are written in dense legalese that’s hard to understand, but more and more sites are producing plain-language terms that make it clear what you’re agreeing to.

3. Set Up Your Account

It’s best practice these days to provide as little information as possible for publication. You have to create a user name and a password (choose carefully to make it harder to hack) and include contact information. You may also see an option to let advertisers contact you. Make sure you turn that on or off based on your preferences. You’ll usually be required to verify your identity by entering a code sent via email or phone so they know it’s you.

4. Guard Your Inbox and Contacts

Protect your primary email address by using it only for communications with family and friends and for paying bills. Set up a secondary email account to use only with social media. And don’t share your address book or contacts unless you want everyone on those lists to start getting emails asking them to join or notifying them of your activities.

5. Select Accounts to Follow Carefully

Don’t feel obligated to connect with everyone you know on any channel, even if they friend or follow you. If you don’t know them, or if you just don’t want to interact with them online, there’s no need to accept the invitation. Check out other ways to stay connected.

6. Decide How You Want to Engage

Some people are very active on social media, posting updates and commenting or sharing other people’s. But there’s nothing wrong with being what the tech-savvy crowd calls a “lurker”. This is someone who uses social media to keep up with people and events but doesn’t actively participate. Be as active as you want to be.

7. Protect Yourself from Cyber Crime

Elder financial fraud isn’t restricted to scammy phone calls and emails. Scheming fraudsters use social media, too. Though uncommon, some crime rings do monitor social media for posts announcing vacations so they can plan a burglary. As excited as you may be about travel, save your posts till after you’ve come back home.

8. Have Fun

Get out there and enjoy yourself while making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Use this advice to help you have fun, stay connected, and be safe on social media. See you on the Internet!

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Related Blog Post: If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to read about these three popular hobbies for seniors.