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Cyber Safe Seniors

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With start of the month of August, the warm summer days start to wind down, and we prepare for the unofficial start of a new year (doesn’t it always feel like September starts a new year, even years after we’ve graduated from school?). Many of our residents have expressed interest in learning more about using the internet. Some want to learn more about social media feel so they can stay in touch with family members during the school year or reconnect with old friends they may have lost touch with.  Regardless of the reason, we know understanding social media is an important part of modern life. So, today we will overview some basics of how to use social media, and how to stay safe on the internet

Who is online?

According to a recent study, 53% of adults over the age of 65 are regularly spending time online, and that percentage is only growing. What’s incredible about the internet is the infinite opportunity it presents. While many of your friends and family are spending time online, so are authors, world leaders…. Everyone!

As you are thinking about who you may want to connect with over social media or email, consider acquaintances from your past you would like to reconnect with! You may be surprised how many of your friends from throughout your life are active on social media.

Facebook 101:

It can be very intimidating to learn something new! If you are excited about connecting with friends and family on social media but don’t know where to start, we suggest beginning with Facebook. If you have any tech savvy grandchildren or family members, ask them to sit down with you to show you the ropes. But, if you don’t have anyone to teach you, or you are more of an independent learner, we’ve included a video teaching the basics of Facebook below.


What is appropriate to share?

Posting on social media is exciting – you can share updates about your life for your nearest and dearest, with live updates on their reactions. But some content is appropriate and some is not. In general, you should trust your gut when it comes to making decisions about what to share online. A good rule of thumb is to only share photos or words that you are ok with anyone seeing (not just your closest friends or family).

How to spot a scam?

As we previously alluded to, internet allows us to access endless resources and connect with people near and far. But, much like in “real” life, there are people with good intentions and people with bad intentions. Unfortunately, some people with bad intentions try to take advantage of people who may not be as tech savvy.

A great to keep in mind is “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” There are a few classic tropes scammers hide behind. The Center for Cyber Safety and Education has shared the following scams to look out for:

  • The Stranded Traveler: Convincingly appears to be coming from a family member or friend that desperately needs financial help due to a crisis. If this happens to you, do not respond. Call the family member or friend to verify they are not in need of help.
  • The “Rich” Prince: Convinces you that in return for sending them money, you will receive an even larger sum of money. If this happens, do not respond and block the sender.
  • The “Helpful” Computer Technician: A caller pretends to be from a reputable company that notices something wrong with your computer or device. They pretend to call out of concern to help you fix a problem. This intention is to talk you into giving them access to your computer so they can take it over. If this happens to you, hang up and block the caller. Then, run an anti-virus scan.


To learn more about what to look out for and ways to stay safe, read through this helpful guide to internet safety for senior citizens published by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education.

While we should all stay diligent about taking precautions while using the internet, there are many benefits to joining the online community! We hope this gave you a better understanding of how you can incorporate social media in your life as well as keep you safe from scammers, connect with friends and family, and share appropriate updates.