Is social media a senior’s biggest frenemy?
Seniors, studies show, must stay engaged and connected for longevity. However, health concerns, mobility and losing friends and family make being social more challenging the older you get, says Scott Page, CEO of LifeGuide.
Social media provides a good solution. From the comfort of your couch, you can stay connected through a touch of a finger on a screen. You can get information from all over the world, talk to friends and family and enjoy the benefits of community.
But the ease and access goes both ways. It also increases exposure to those who don’t have the best intentions, Page says in a recent Forbes article.
Scammers target vulnerable, trusting seniors for financial scams or fake news.
Social media platforms may look like reputable newsrooms but they don’t provide fact-based journalism. It’s more like a social swap meet. Sometimes you get a bargain, sometimes if you aren’t careful to check out your source, you go bust.
The Washington Post published a story in 2019 revealing that seniors are the most likely to share fake news.
With so many competing narratives on social media, it’s no surprise seniors have doubts and confusion figuring out paid versus free content, and opinion versus verifiable facts.
So should seniors go off line rather than face the risks of online life? Perhaps, but there are many benefits and ways to protect yourself.
One benefit is that life online combats loneliness which is linked to mortality. If we are involved with others, we tend to live much longer.
Also, social media allows family and friends to keep track of how seniors are doing.
In protecting seniors online, privacy settings are a first step. Seniors should never list a birth date or year or any other personal information online, Page says.
If a person or organization reaches out, seniors should do some research before responding. It’s always a good idea for seniors to have other family members have an alert for any financial transactions as a back up to make sure they aren’t being defrauded.
And, seniors should take extra steps to make sure they are actually talking to who they think they are online. Check with the friend or family members through another way, such as email, text or phone call.