Facebook accounts have been hacked. Facebook has been used to target the election. Facebook advertisers have your data. According to Omnicore stats, 62% of online seniors aged 65+ are on Facebook.

Are you still a Facebook/media user? Or have you joined the ranks of those who don’t trust social media and are choosing to make friends elsewhere?

There is a danger in using this medium, but, as with any tool, how you use it determines how safe you are. Knowledge is key!

Let’s look at the risks and benefits of using social media for 60-plussers who want to age dynamically and hold on to their marbles as long as possible.

The Benefits

Provide a Community

Social media offer a community you can tap into when you live alone and don’t get out much. Thanks to social media, you can communicate with people across the globe. You can even have late-night conversations when you can’t sleep with people who live in different time zones.

Anti-Depressant Qualities

Social media can work as an anti-depressant, each click giving you a tiny shot of dopamine, a pleasure hormone, in your brain. People get glued to their screens because social media provides an ongoing dopamine ‘drip’.

Keep Family Close

Social media are a boon for increased family contact. You can easily let loved ones know what you’re up to and you can follow them. I am now connected with my family overseas, when years ago I had no idea what was going on in their daily lives, and neither did they about me.

We have a yearly face-to-face visit when we can deepen our relationship without having to catch up on the details, because we already know the details we have shared.

Open Window to the World

Social media give a window on the world at your fingertips. Even though you may be in a media echo-chamber because of your interests, you at least get to know more about that echo-chamber.

Via social media you can step into other worlds without having to join them. Keeping up with the times builds new brain cells. Some products advertised have proven to be handy gadgets to ease my life.

A Marketing Tool

Social Media can give you a link to market your small business, the book you wrote or let you share the organization you feel passionate about, with the world.

The Modern Newsstand

Increasingly, Facebook, Twitter and other social media, are the way you will stay connected with what’s going on in your community. True, you can still read a local paper, but news doesn’t spread near as fast that way and will be slower to reach you.

Posters have taken the road of town criers, quaint symbols becoming a thing of the past. People now post events on Facebook. Your hiking club, your church, your hospital and doctor communicate through Facebook.

Disaster planning meetings, updates on what’s going on with fires, floods and tornadoes… it all goes through Facebook. The ease and speed with which social media distribute information is seductively easy and, at times, life-saving.

The Risks

But what about the addiction, you say? What about these people glued to their little screen while riding a bus, walking a mall, having dinner together at a restaurant?

Yes, the immediate feedback Facebook provides is addictive. It does offer a dopamine ‘drip’ for people starved for attention, people disconnected from their passions and their creativity.

Using a little awareness, you don’t have to become addicted. You can learn to protect yourself from unwanted intrusions in your on-line life. You can decrease risk and safeguard yourself from becoming a media addict.

Restrict Access to Your Account Information

Check your Facebook and other media settings: you can limit access to your Facebook account by restricting access to your information, sharing with advertisers and responding to posts. Responding to another person’s post puts your name in another pool of ‘friends’ or makes it publicly available.

Opt for Closed/Private Groups

Join closed groups to exchange information. The information exchanged in a closed group stays in the group. You will still see ads popping up, but these are based on the group’s activities.

Keep Private Pictures… Private!

Do not show pictures you want to keep private. Others can easily steal pictures and use them for purposes they were never intended to serve. Once posted, pictures stay ‘out there’ and Facebook owns them.

I joined Facebook to keep up with my children and grandchildren. My children have since severely restricted postings to avoid unwanted interest from outsiders for their children and to minimize their children’s online presence until they are old enough to make their own decisions about what they want to share with the world.

I wholeheartedly support this decision for my grandchildren’s privacy. I now get photos and videos via text or email.

Limit Your Social Media Time

To avoid getting lost in media stimulation, limit your interaction with your personal Facebook account. Set your phone on silent to avoid letting ‘dings’ and ‘rings’ distract you from conversations or activities.

Choose a time of day (or multiple times) to update, check in or see what’s floating through your timeline.

If you run a small business and have a Facebook page or group, you can interact as often as you want to keep your business up and running. Treat it as business and don’t become enslaved to each posting. Set secretarial hours for your business.

Enjoy Life Outside of Virtual Reality

To avoid addiction to media, HAVE A LIFE! See real people, join live groups and do activities with them; visit your family in the flesh. Fill your time with creative endeavors, with hobbies that give you fulfillment.

If your creative activities involve work on a computer, turn on the ‘do not disturb’ tab under notifications, or choose a set time for the ‘do not disturb’ button.

I have made online friends, who have become travel partners. Through my Facebook page and group, Walkingwomen50plus, I receive hiking invitations in New Zealand, Ladakh and China. Adventures await me, and I don’t have to go alone.

Enjoy the freedom to explore the world that online media connectedness can give you as you age. Allow the online connectedness to bring new friends into your life – friends you can meet in real time and in a real place.

What experience do you have with Facebook and other social media? Is it more positive or negative? Let’s hear how Social media have changed your life! 

Let's Have a Conversation!