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October 17, 2014

Staying Social Online: The Do’s & Don’ts of Social Media

Social media can be a positive addition to your daily routine. Not only does social media make it easier to stay in touch with loved ones, studies show social media usage can benefit your health in a variety of ways. However, if you’re new to social media, joining in can be a daunting task, even among those who consider themselves Internet savvy. According to PewResearch, 56 percent of older adults who go online but don’t use social media say they need help getting started.

The easiest way to become more comfortable with using social media as a tool to staying social is to familiarize yourself with some of the best practices. Here, we share a few Do’s and Don’ts to using social media to help get you started.

DO connect with friends and family 

Sites like Facebook, Google+, and even Twitter are great for staying in touch with loved ones. 

…but DON’T accept friend or follow requests from people you don’t know. 

A good rule of thumb is to stick to connections you actually know “in real life” or, at the very least, with whom you share a mutual friend. Since the web can act as the ultimate identity mask, you should always be skeptical of someone who wants to be your social media friend but doesn’t know you in real life. 

DO post, share, tweet, and like 

Social media is all about being social. You should feel free to express yourself by posting and sharing information and thoughts that are important to you. (Don’t know what these terms mean? Look ahead to our Glossary!

…but DON’T give out personal information

Even if you have a limited following on social media, the information you post online should never be considered “secure.” Avoid posting personal information like your address or when you’ll be out of town. Make sure to visit your profile settings and adjust privacy settings in a way that makes you feel comfortable. For instance, on Facebook, you can set a preference that only friends see your postings—otherwise, everything you post will be searchable and public. 

DO interact with your friends and followers through likes, comments, and retweets.

If one of your Facebook friends posts a picture that you like, well, then “like” it! If it’s your grandchild’s birthday, write on his or her wall—even if you already sent a card! If you see worthwhile information or advice on Twitter, retweet it to share with your followers. 

…but DON’T over-share or overwhelm

Think of social media along the same lines as the words you speak: Once something is out there, you can’t take it back. Sure, there are edit and delete options, but it’s best to just exercise posting caution from the very start. For instance, you don’t need to share every aspect of your day, from the minute you wake up to the second you go to sleep. You also don’t need to always comment or respond to your friends’ posts. Keep in mind that what you post on a friend’s Facebook wall or comment on their status is often visible to all of their connections. If it’s something personal, you might want to consider sending a private message instead. 

Would you like more information on using social media? Download “Social Media for Older Adults: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started!” 

Social Media for Older Adults


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